The Controller of Budget Dr Margaret Nyakangó at a past event. FILE PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG


Budget boss wants Sh1.5bn inflated salaries chopped

The Controller of Budget (COB) has demanded the reallocation of more than Sh1.5 billion in over-budgeted salaries of State officers, including the President and his deputy, escalating her fight with the Treasury.

The COB, in the latest report on the national government’s budget performance in the three months to September, notes that despite knowing the salaries of the top officials paid through the Consolidated Fund Services (CFS) and gazetted by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), the Treasury in the 2023/24 budget over-budget the salaries by more than Sh1.5 billion.

Margaret Nyakang’o, the COB, now wants the Treasury to reallocate the amounts through a supplementary budget.

“When undertaking her oversight role, the COB has observed over-budgeting of the salaries and allowances budget despite salaries and allowances for the holders of the Constitutional Offices being known and having been gazetted by the SRC. The National Treasury should ensure the budget is as realistic as possible. In the meantime, appropriate reallocation should be done through a supplementary budget to avoid over-budgeting,” Dr Nyakang’o said in the report.

The office that approves the withdrawal of public funds before spending to ensure that spending by public agencies complies with public finance requirements cast doubts on Treasury intentions when it budgeted excessive amounts for salaries that are not expected to change in the current financial year.

The issue first became public about a month ago when Dr Nyakang’o appeared before the national dialogue committee, where she spilled the beans on how the Treasury prepared budgets showing huge figures on expected salary payments when actual salary payments were lower.

“When I was doing the budget for CFS— where my salary is paid from— I found out that my salary was budgeted at three times what I am paid. I am the only State officer in my institution, so there is nothing like confusion there. I asked them why the budget showed three times what my annual salary was and it was like that for all the State officers. I have not received the answer to date,” Dr Nyakang’o told the committee on October 31.

In an interview with the Daily Nation early last month, Dr Nyakang’o expressed fears that the over-budgeting of salaries could be a case of budgeted corruption, revealing that she could not tell what the over-budgeted money was used for after the Treasury removed it from the supplementary budgets.

In 2022/23, the Treasury had budgeted Sh4.6 billion for State officers paid through the CFS originally, only to remove Sh696.4 million (15 percent of the CFS salaries budget) when it presented the second supplementary budget.

“Budgeted corruption is a colloquial term, it has to be supported by data, by statistics. What I have put before you today is the first set of data for you to believe that there is such a term. It is for you to decide how you want to go ahead to have enough data to prove that that term exists,” she said last month.

In the COB’s national government budget implementation review report for the first quarter of 2023/24, figures from the Treasury show that more than Sh1.5 billion was over-budgeted for some 12 offices.

The Treasury budgeted Sh42.4 million for the salaries of President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, though they are supposed to earn Sh32.05 million through 2023/24. The Treasury over-budgeted the salaries of the two senior-most State officers by Sh10.39 million.

The Attorney-General and Auditor-General’s salaries which are set at Sh957,000 monthly during the current financial year were also over-budgeted by Sh7.8 million (Attorney-General) and Sh10 million (Auditor-General). The COB’s pay went up by Sh8.8 million.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had the highest cases of inflated salaries at Sh1.2 billion, with Sh3.6 billion being budgeted initially, yet expected spending through the year is Sh2.4 billion.

The report also notes that while former President Uhuru Kenyatta and the former first lady were paid Sh5.6 million during the three months to the end of September, Sh24.18 million was budgeted for their salaries through 2023/24, revealing a Sh1.6 million gap.

Asked about the possible re-allocation, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said he had “referred the matter to my colleagues for a comprehensive response. They require time to show the data.”