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[August 24, 2014]
Corrupt public servants to be named in AG report [Business Daily (Kenya)]
(Business Daily (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Civil servants will be cited personally in audit reports for loss of State funds in fresh amendments to the law that grants the Auditor-General powers to recommend withholding funds to corrupt State units.
The Public Audit Bill marks a departure from the current law where the office of the Auditor-General only highlights misuse of State funds by public bodies and offices but not individuals.
"The Auditor-General, or an officer authorised for the purpose of this Act, shall have powers to attribute responsibility for inaction, omissions, misuse or abuse of public resources to individual public officers," the Bill says.
The provision is a response to the misuse of public funds that goes unpunished despite Parliament promising that those culpable will be held to account.
Despite last year's stern statement of intent by the Public Accounts Committee on Sh303 billion that was unaccounted for in 2011/12, no action or prosecutions have been made.
In the recently released audit for 2012/13, Auditor-General Edward Ouko noted that the trend hasn't changed much, with public offices still not accounting for a sizeable chunk of expenditure.
"Out of the total expenditure of Sh802,279,107,240 incurred in 2012/2013 under Recurrent and Development Votes, I was unable to confirm whether expenditure totaling Sh337,902,304,501 or 42 per cent was incurred lawfully and in an effective way," Mr Ouko said.
READ: Auditor-General questions spending of Sh328bn The Bill also grants the Auditor-General powers to recommend withholding of funds to a public entity for violation of the law.
"The Auditor-General may in his audit report to Parliament or county assembly pursuant to Public Finance Management Act, 2012, recommend the withholding of funds to any State Organ or public entity," the Bill says.
Already, the Senate has instructed the Controller of Budget and the Treasury not to release funds to four counties over queries raised in a report published by the Auditor-General on their accounts.
With this new law, this could be extended to multiple agencies, departments, independent offices, commissions and public corporations that fail audit tests.
The law comes at a time when MPs are demanding that several public officers, including Defence principal secretary Mutea Iringo, be held accountable for a suspicious transfer of Sh8.3 billion into and out of the government's secret security accounts during the 2013 transition period.
The Auditor-General's report, released a month ago, flagged some of the cash movements. But Mr Iringo who was the Interior PS at the OP has, however, distanced himself from the suspicious cash transactions, adding that he responded to all the audit queries raised by the report.
It is expected the threat of bearing personal responsibility and withholding of funds will prompt public units to be more forthcoming with information to the audit office.
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