A war of words has erupted between senators and governors over the audit of Covid-19 funds use by the 47 county governments.
The Council of Governors declared that it will no longer allow Auditor General Nancy Gathungu to look at their expenditure of Covid-19 cash.
Through chairman Martin Wambora, the county bosses said they will no longer entertain auditors in their jurisdiction for “misinterpreting the facts.”
“We had a full council meeting last week and told the office of the Auditor General not to continue auditing counties’ use of Covid-19 funds because we are busy with the Senate,” Wambora said.
Wambora spoke when he appeared before the Senate Health committee chaired by Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito to respond to audit queries on Covid-19 funds use on Wednesday.
The chairman stunned the nine-member committee when he added that they have already delivered a letter to auditor general’s office.
“We are concerned that auditors are continuing to audit us on Covid funds use when there has been three previous audits by the Auditor General, Health ministry and National Treasury,” he added sparking protests from senators.
The lawmakers told off Wambora and his council for attempting to evade accountability in their expenditure of public resources.
Narok Senator Ledama Olekina fired the first salvo at Wambora, criticising the CoG for purporting to have the oversight mandate saying its a preserve of Parliament and not any other body.
“The auditor was directed by this committee to carry out this audit,” Olekina said.
The Narok lawmaker reiterated that Senate has powers to instruct the auditor general to carry out audit on any issue it deems fit.
“Every governor is responsible for public resources appropriated to his county government and not the Council of Governors,” he said, adding that governors have developed bad manners.
Wajir Senator Abdullahi Ali termed the remarks as unfortunate and ill-founded.
“I don’t know whether when a governor becomes a chair of Council of Governors forgets his responsibility,” Ali said.
“That is wrong and should be discouraged, the chair CoG should not even have bothered to disclose to us, but if auditor general is acting on whips of CoG then she should tell us,” he added.
Nominated Senator Mary Seneta termed the letter as unfortunate and ill-advised saying governors receive public resources and should be accountable.
“There is no way they can tell us not ask questions about funds use or refuse to be accountable, they must be taken to task and explain how they are using their monies,” Seneta said.
“CoG must know they have no constitutional right to use taxpayers’ money without being audited,” she added.
In February, Gathungu released an audit report, indicting the county governments flaunted procurement laws, a situation that could have led to loss of public money.
In her report, Gathungu prosecuted at least 27 counties for not employing competitive bidding, four dished out tenders to non-prequalified bidders and six did procurement without carrying any market survey.
It adds that two counties misappropriated the Kenya Devolution Support Project funds, three irregularly split procurement contracts contrary to section 54 (1) of the PPADA act 2015 and four procured goods without valid contracts.
The county governments received the Covid-19 related funding amounting to Sh7.7 billion, comprising the conditional grants Sh5 billion, allowances for the frontline Health workers Sh2.6 billion and grants from DANIDA of Sh350 million.
-Edited by SKanyara