LEGISLATORS WANT PSs AND PARASTATAL CEOs FINED OVER STALLED PROJECTS

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Lawmakers want Principal Secretaries and parastatal Chiefs penalized for incomplete development projects falling under their dockets. The lawmakers cracked the whip on the accounting officers after their push to be allocated funds to conduct a special audit on incomplete projects hit a snag.

The lawmakers put the blame on the PSs and parastatal chiefs for introducing new public projects existing ones remained incomplete.

The Budget and Appropriation Committee of the National Assembly chaired by Kanini Kega-MP Kieni, said that stalled public projects have become a special feature in our budget and are exerting funding pressures and racking up pending bills.

Additionally, the committee also noted in its report on the fiscal Budget for the Financial year 2021/22, that there was no adherence to the project guidelines issued by the National Treasury including restrictions on the introduction of new projects before completion of existing ones, despite limited resources.

The lawmakers further said that a policy must be implemented to ensure enforcement of Public Finance Management Act (PMFA) and Treasury guidelines, and sanctions instituted against Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that introduce new projects before completion of existing ones.

They also revealed that the National Treasury has began a nation-wide stock-taking of all public projects for an analysis aimed at identifying those that qualify for “re-appraisal, re-prioritisation, and rationalisation”, as per the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) 2021 published in February.

This comes on the back of a 2019 World Bank review of Kenya’s public expenditure which suggested that 522 projects worth Sh1.1 trillion out of 3,972 projects in the country at the time were significantly delayed, incomplete or stalled.

The legislators had in an earlier report on the fiscal budget financial year 2020/2021, asked the National Treasury to request Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu to audit of projects whose funding had been affected by budget cuts as a result of shortfalls in revenue due to Covid-19 pandemic economic shocks.

The audit was to be completed by April 2021 with a view of providing funds for completion of viable projects in the financial year starting July 2021 to avert further increase in incomplete projects.

“Auditing of projects affected by budget cuts by the Auditor General require enhancement of the operations of the Office of the Auditor General,” the Treasury wrote in supporting information for the Budget Estimates for the fiscal year 2021/22 submitted to the House on April 29.

“This will be considered in the context of the FY 2020/21 Supplementary Estimates No.2 and the FY 2021/22 Budget.”

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, in the second supplementary budget sent to the House on Thursday last week for approval, had cut the Office of the Auditor General’s allocation for this fiscal year by Kshs.158 million giving her office Kshs.5.52 billion.

However, lawmakers have raised the Auditors allocation for the coming fiscal year up to Kshs.5.86 billion, a 3.1% rise from Kshs.5.68 billion initially allocated to the office, in what may be seen as a move intended to facilitate increasing audit work by the office.

The President’s Big Four agenda might not be achieved if public officers keep stalling crucial developmental projects that have already been budgeted for. There is need for public officers to account for development projects undertaken in their tenure, within strict timelines, in order to prevent misuse and wastage of public funds.

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