Garissa and Wajir Counties Use Pending Bills to Steal Public Money, Special AG Audit Report Exposes
The Auditor General has released Counties Special Audit Report on pending bills after the national Government ordered a status report on the accruing bills. The 47 Counties had earlier on presented to the Controller a Budget total of Kshs. 108 billion as pending bills, however when the special audit report was ordered and the exercise began, Counties presented pending bills of Kshs. 88,984,628,752 to the Auditor General, a difference of Kshs. 20 billion. After a further scrutiny, The Auditor General established that only Kshs. 51,284,830,129 was actually eligible and verifiable, the other Kshs. 37,701,100,378 was found to be ineligible. This has established that the counties could not account for Kshs. 58 billion.
Several Counties have been accused of inflating the numbers while others submitted lists of suppliers and contractors with no documents to verify their authenticity.
The NFD Counties of Garissa, Wajir and Isiolo are in the top ten of Counties with the highest pending bills. Garissa recorded a total of Kshs. 1,927,137,092; Wajir recorded Kshs. 1,719,448,837 while Isiolo had a total of Kshs. 1,058,351,270. The full report is yet to be released but the summary strongly suggests that counties, particularly previously marginalized counties, are embezzling public money under the cover of pending bills. The figures exposed by the AG’s special audit report indicate inflated figures that Counties have been paying from 2013. Earlier this month the Controller of Budget wrote to Governors asking them to establish County Pending Bills Committees, which will include of independent person who will serve as the chairperson and county officials from the departments of internal audit, finance, procurement and the department responsible for infrastructure. Most Counties are yet to create the Committee whose main task would be to verify pending bills and ensure the County Treasury does not accrue more bills.
Some stakeholders have suggested to expand this committee and include volunteers from the media, local NGOs and community members who should only be paid out of pocket expenses and not a standing salary or allowance.