Taxpayer Association, counties oppose Senate oversight bid


Taxpayer Association, counties oppose Senate oversight bid
Auditor General Dr. Edward Ouko and National Tax Payers Association Cordinator Irene Otieno during the unveiling of NTA's consolidated county executives audit

In Summary

  • The analysis further raises additional queries in counties own source revenue mobilization to recommend the proper documentations of accounts, the withdrawal of funds with authority of the Controller of budget and the 70-30 percent balance on recurrent to development spend.
  • Challenges to effective revenue management are however raised to incorporate inefficiencies in the State’s Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), the untimely disbursement of funds from the National Treasury and lengthy procurement processes.
  • According to the Taxpayers Association members of public will have to take up the mantle of 3rd party oversight across the budget making and implementation processes, this in a view to bring down revenue administration to the grassroots while checking on costs.

The National Taxpayers Association (NTA) has alongside counties expressed their opposition to Senate’s bid to supervise to inspect the counties book of accounts under the proposed County Oversight and Accountability Bill.

At the core of the objection is a legal contention by the pair who term the proposed Senate oversight role in the devolved units as a direct contravention of the Constitution of Kenya who equips the units with the sole supervision duty.

“The legal framework that established county assemblies is already clear on oversight at the second layer of government. To allocate public money to individual senators in the name of oversight negates is not only a burden to tax payers but also a replication of function,” said the County Assembly Forum (CAF) Chairperson Johnson Osoi.

The NTA has meanwhile queried the proposal by the Senate from a financial point of view to assess the split between development and recurrent spending in government.

According to the association’s national coordinator Irene Otieno, a Senate oversight function at the grassroots would only serve to inflate the already ballooning wage bill in the counties given the requirement for additional funds to facilitate surveillance by the senators.

“I perceive that the senators have seen a gap in the counties oversight function. At face value, the bill is okay but for the cost implication to tax payers. These senators will come to mashinani at our expense when we are already paying an institution that resides in the counties to conduct oversight,” she said.

External audit of counties books of account however remains an evolving subject given the increasing scrutiny of the units’ revenue management practices at both the national and county level.

NTA’s self initiated analysis of the Auditor General reports on counties has for instance picked up on longstanding inconsistencies in revenue management to include largely the lack of receipts for spending, huge pending bills and the lack of audit committees and fixed asset registries in the units.

The analysis further raises additional queries in counties own source revenue mobilization to recommend the proper documentations of accounts, the withdrawal of funds with authority of the Controller of budget and the 70-30 percent balance on recurrent to development spend.

Challenges to effective revenue management are however raised to incorporate inefficiencies in the State’s Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), the untimely disbursement of funds from the National Treasury and lengthy procurement processes.

According to the Taxpayers Association members of public will have to take up the mantle of 3rd party oversight across the budget making and implementation processes, this in a view to bring down revenue administration to the grassroots while checking on costs.

“Audit reports come in when funds have already been spent. Public involvement should start right at the onset of the budget making process. Oversight cannot be de-linked,” Ms Otieno added.

Cognizant of the increasing need to pass down the audit reports to mwananchi, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has began formulating a social accountability framework as part of its ongoing pursuit for sustainability in revenue management.

“The accountability framework will assure information flow from our office down to the people and back. Information gathered will enhance accountability across the revenue management scope,” Auditor General Dr. Edward Ouko told Citizen Digital.

Civil Society has until now played a critical role in bridging the gap between the auditor general’s reports and members of public to comprehensively breakdown the audits at the grass-root level.

The National Taxpayers Association and the Institute of Economic Affairs make some of the institutions which have already published consolidated copies of the auditor’s reports.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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