National Assembly Committees challenged to regularly monitor spending by government agencies to enhance prudent use of public resources
The Chairpersons of Committees have been challenged to regularly monitor disbursements and spending by Ministries to ensure there is value for money, thus ward off graft.
Speaking during the final day of the National Assembly Leadership Retreat at Ole Sereni Hotel Nairobi, the Chairperson of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, Hon. Kanini Kega observed that regular reports from line ministries and government agencies on how they are spending monies disbursed to them would help avert corruption and ensure prudent use of public resources.
" As Committee Chairs we have failed as once we approve monies to ministries, we do not monitor disbursements. We only wait for audits which could be too late if any monies have been already been misappropriated", he regretted.
This caution comes only a few days after claims of misappropriation of funds meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).
In an earlier engagement with the Institute of Chartered Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) Chief Executive Officer, CPA Edwin Makori, Members resolved to, in conjunction with other accountability bodies, develop a robust framework for real-time audit, timely implementation of audit recommendations and facilitative frameworks for an effective audit process during, and post the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following these concerns, the leadership forum has resolved to instruct the National Treasury to submit to the House a quarterly report on the exchequer releases to facilitate adequate oversight of government agencies on their expenditures.
They have further resolved that Departmental Committees should forthwith, utilize the Annual Budget Implementation Reports from the Controller of Budget to regularly follow up on the utilisation of funds.
The House Leadership also agreed that going forward, the Budget and Appropriations Committee and Departmental Committees will ensure that during the consideration of supplementary budgets, no new projects are introduced so as to prioritise ongoing projects.
While apprising the forum on the state of the economy amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury, Amb. Ukur Yatani painted a positive outlook, adding that Kenya's economic growth remained strong and resilient despite the challenging global environment.
" The economy remains resilient amid Covid-19 challenges in 2020. The economy registered a growth of 4.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020, compared to a similar period in 2019. The economy is expected to improve and grow by 2.6 percent in 2020 and pick up to 5.3 percent in 2021", he explained.
With regard to government efforts towards economic recovery, CS Yatani said that the Treasury was was in the process of developing a post Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy to mitigate the adverse impacts on the economy while re-positioning the country on a steady and sustainable growth trajectory. He undertook to submit it to Parliament for approval once it is finalized.
On debt management, the Cabinet Secretary submitted that they were reviewing Kenya's debt portfolio, in line with the ministry debt management strategy. He informed the House Leadership that Kenya had reduced her appetite for bilateral loan facilities in favour of concessional multilateral debts such as from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank which attract cheaper interests.
The National Assembly has since asked the National Treasury to restructure Kenya's external debts which have a short maturity period and high interest, in order to ensure sustainability in debt repayment.
While commending the government through the National Treasury for the various economic stimulus packages rolled out so far, Members led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Moses Cheboi, and Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Labour and Social Welfare, Hon. Peter Mwathi called for the structuring of well thought-out programs for economic sustainability and to help the country realise value for money.
Members however took issue with the management of the ' Kazi Mtaani' program which is currently being piloted in a few urban Counties which were adversely affected by the after-effects of the pandemic. They urged that the program be extended to all constituencies in the country, adding only those deserving and the most vulnerable should benefit from the program.