Kenyans are hopeful that the Constitutional Offices that were set up to audit the use of funds for the County Governments will not let them down. The shenanigans that are already evident in the budget making process are raising many eyebrows.
For example, although the Chairman of the County Assemblies Speakers’ Committee, Dr Nur Nassir Abdi assured Kenyans over the weekend that over 90 per cent of the counties across the country have passed their budgets on time, this merely begs the question about their quality, considering that many were hurriedly passed on Saturday and Sunday to meet the June 30 deadline.
While it is true that a governor who is unable to meet the deadline has the option of passing a “vote on account”, which allows the county to draw up to 50 per cent of its total budget from the Controller of the Budget, there are well grounded fears that this could be used to get the money and spend it on projects and programmes not approved by the County Assembly.
Fears of possible misuse of public funds have been heightened by instances where the governor refuses to sign a budget merely because the county assembly has rejected some of his personal projects , as happened in Kiambu County over the week-end.
Governor William Kabogo is reported to have refused to sign off the budget estimates because he was angry that Members of the County Assembly (MCA) had the ‘temerity’ to cut by half the Sh1.4 billion he wanted allocated to his and his deputy’s office. Ostensibly, this money was to be given to the youth and women.
In their defence, the MCAs said they were unhappy with the allocation because there was no criteria on how the money would be given out, fearing that it would be dished out to the governor’s political supporters.
It is also doubtful whether there was any meaningful public participation in the counties’ budget-making across the country in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act 2012.
Public participation would have forced governors to avoid allocations of massive sums to, for example, renovating their houses and buying four-wheel-drive fuel guzzlers that cost as much to run as to buy.
Given the cavalier approach by county governments to this crucial exercise, few Kenyans would be surprised if some are jailed in the future.
At least the Auditor-General has sent out teams to go over the assets of former local authorities to see whether any funds were used against the law after they were dissolved.