Why CoB denied 28 counties cash requests

margaret Nyakang'o

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o during an interview at her office in September last year.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Twenty-eight counties were denied upwards of Sh3.2 billion cash requests by the Controller of Budget (CoB) in the seven months to February mainly for failing to justify why they needed the funds.

A CoB report further shows that the diversion of funds by the counties, wastage and a high wage bill outside the legal threshold caused the denial of funds to the devolved units.

The main culprits are Narok, Nairobi, Nakuru and Kisii, which were denied upwards of Sh200 million each, with Narok being denied most cash requests, totalling Sh910.4 million.

The report on approval of requisitions says part of the reasons the Narok County Government was denied f the money was lack of clear work plan on undertaking of projects and withholding information on tax for some suppliers to the county. Nairobi City County, which was denied Sh525 million, had 10 of its requests denied, nine of which were by the county executive.

“[CoB] had approved a similar claim by staff attending an induction workshop of the County Executive Committee members and newly appointed chief officers hence appears to be a duplication,” the report states in relation to a Sh9.2 million request by the executive for operations and maintenance expenses.

The office also denied the county a Sh6.9 million request on December 9, purportedly to cater for expenses during the inauguration of Governor Johnson Sakaja.

“Details of items hired and the nature of services rendered during the governor’s inauguration ceremony were not provided,” the CoB explained.

Several other denied requisitions related to requests to settle arrears and pending bills for which the county could not support. Nakuru County could also not access upwards of Sh450 million, with the basis for denial of a Sh215 million request on January 23 being “wrong classification of Lapfund pending bills as development expenditure” and of Sh170 million being car reimbursement claims that were not supported by evidence of motor vehicle purchase and proof of ownership.

Cob said during the seven months, it received Sh182.7 billion requisition requests, out which Sh179.5 were approved.

“The declined withdrawal requests translate to two per cent of the requisitions that were not approved due to failure to follow the guidelines. Common reasons for delays in the approval of requests are irregular diversion of funds meant for salaries to operations expenses, mainly statutory and other payroll deductions,” the report stated.

It also flagged imprudent use of resources, high wage bill outside the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database (IPPD), unsupported expenditure on foreign travel and frequent requests for standing imprests for the same offices instead of replenishments and without personal responsibility.

Counties factoring recurrent expenditure items under the development budget or whose budget approval were contested by assemblies and other stakeholders on the approval process of the budget were also denied funding requests. Others that recorded huge declined requests are Bungoma, Kisii, Kitui, Machakos, Turkana, Samburu and Machakos, each over Sh150 million.

“Counties identified for training based on the number of declined requisition files are Narok, Nakuru, Nairobi City, Murangá and Bungoma,” the report states.

Seventeen requests by Bungoma County were declined, with issues raised by CoB being use of wrong templates to make requests, questionable imprests, failure to on-board workers on the IPPD system and failing to support requests.

The CoB advised counties to liaise with the National Treasury and Central Bank of Kenya to automate the exchequer process to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in funds release and accountability while reducing human interaction.