MPs probe Sh147bn Uhuru-Ruto emergency fund expenditure

Uhuru and Ruto

Then-President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and his then-Deputy William Ruto during a Jubilee Party rally at Kasarani Stadium. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

A watchdog committee of the National Assembly is set to interrogate state officers implicated in the Sh147 billion flagged by the auditor spent under emergency expenditure in the last ten years.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has queried how the ministries under former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his then Deputy William Ruto allegedly exploited the emergency clause in the Constitution to appropriate funds without MPs' approval.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John Mbadi told the Sunday Nation that they will be interrogating accounting officers of various ministries adversely mentioned for misusing taxpayers’ money, in the special audit, tabled in the House.

Mr Mbadi said the committee has agreed to entirely conclude with the report when the House will be on short recess next month.

The National Assembly will start its short recess from March 22 to April 14th.

“We will call those government officials so that they can tell us why they misused public resources using Article 223 of the Constitution. If there are lack of clear guidelines in the clause, it is not a license to misuse people’s money,” Mr Mbadi said.

“We want to give that special report the attention it deserves that is why we will consider the report when the House is in recess so that it does not interfere with other schedules of the committee,” he added.

Mr Mbadi pointed out that the expenditure by the executive as reported in the special report is a clear indication of poor planning and budgeting.

“It is ridiculous to spend Sh147 billion under emergency clauses. How is buying shares at Kenya Airways and Telkom an emergency? The officials will tell us when we call them,” Mr Mbadi said.

In a bid to tame the government's appetite for spending using Article 223 of the Constitution, Mr Mbadi said the committee will fast-track a Bill he sponsored last year on the amendment of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act.

The Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to provide stringent procedures for incurring urgent or unforeseen expenditures.

“The Bill proposes to amend the PFM Act to provide for the procedure for incurring urgent or unforeseen expenditure as provided for in the constitution,” reads the Bill.

Mr Mbadi said if the Bill sails through a request by the government to spend under emergency circumstances will be considered within 14 days.

“Subject to the provisions of Article 223 of the cons, where an amount appropriated for any purpose under an appropriation act is insufficient, the National Treasury shall seek pre-approval to incur the expenditure from the relevant committee of the National Assembly,” reads the Bill.

“The relevant committee of the National Assembly shall consider the pre-approval request under subsection (1) within 14 days and submit its recommendation to the National Treasury,” reads the Bill.

Mr Mbadi complained that since last year, the Bill has still been stuck at the finance committee yet it has important recommendations to prevent the executive from misusing taxpayers' billions.

The special audit, which will be considered by the committee was done following a request by the committee in April last year. This was to determine the effectiveness of the supplementary budgeting process, including funds issued under 223 of the Constitution, to provide proper accountability and transparency on extra budget spending by the various ministries, and State agencies.