Devolution Ministry drought kenya
A hunger-stricken Kenyan frail outside her hut in Turkana County. The Council of Governors (COG)'s relief food assistance could have come a little too late

Deputy President Dr William Ruto on Wednesday boldly claimed that no Kenyan has starved to death as drought ravages Arid and Semi-Arid Areas (ASAL) counties across the country even as locals continue to report fatalities in these regions.

Kenyans have called out the national and county governments on social media for the better part of the week for failing to mitigate the devastating effects of drought that have led to deaths.

Part of the Ministry of Devolution’s mandate includes formulation of devolution policy and providing technical assistance to county governments which puts it at the heart of managing a national disaster such as drought.

But a new report has exposed the ministry for failing to account for the funds which could have gone a long way in assisting hunger stricken Kenyans in different parts of the country.

An analysis of the Auditor General’s reports on spending at the Ministry of Devolution and ASAL areas [formerly Ministry of Devolution and Planning] by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has laid bare the Ministry’s failure to account for billions allocated to it between 2013 and 2016.

IEA’s report analysed spending of four ministries with the biggest budgets namely Devolution, Education, Health and Agriculture.

In what seems like a serial unaccountability habit by the Devolution Ministry, IEA’s report dubbed Analysis of the Auditor General’s Reports on the Financial Statements of National Government shows that Auditor General Edward Ouko queried 49% of the ministry’s Ksh29.29 billion total expenditure in the financial year 2013/2014.

Auditor General queries of total expenditure of Ministry of Devolution budget

  • 49% of Ksh29.29 billion in FY 2013/204
  • 46% of Ksh32.26 billion in FY 2014/2016
  • 52% of Ksh38.55 billion in FY 2015/2016

Ouko gave a qualified opinion for the ministry’s spending during the year. A qualified opinion means that he okayed most of the spending but still raised a few issues.

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The Auditor General also queried 46% of the ministry’s Ksh32.26 billion expenditure in the financial year 2014/2015. That year the state department of planning was hived off from the ministry.

Ouko gave a qualified opinion on spending at the state department of devolution and a disclaimer opinion on spending at the state department of planning.

A disclaimer opinion means that a department’s book keeping is so flawed that the auditor general is not in a position to give an opinion.

The country’s top auditor also queried 52% of the Ministry’s Ksh38.55 billion total expenditure in the financial year 2015/2016.

That year, the auditor general gave a disclaimer opinion for both the devolution and planning state departments.

In context, the graft riddled National Youth Service (NYS) was domiciled in the Devolution Ministry until 2016 when it was moved to the Ministry of Public Service Youth and Gender in a bid to rid it off corruption.

Current Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary up until when she resigned in November 2015 while current Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri was Devolution CS between December 2015 and January 2018.

Eugene Wamalwa is the current Devolution CS after being appointed to the position on January 26, 2018.

“We have seen some of these ministries despite being grossly implicated in scandals, acquire more funding the next year.”

IEA chief executive Kwame Owino

While the Auditor General’s queries do not necessarily translate to theft by the relevant office holders, National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairperson Opiyo Wandayi said that whenever Ouko queries spending of a ministry, state department or an independent commission ‘his suspicions that funds have been looted are 99% of the times spot on’.

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“What happens is that the accounting officers fail to reconcile their books or fail to hand in supporting documents to the Auditor General,” said Wandayi during the launch of the report on Thursday.

He added, “The National Audit Office requires that they submit the necessary documents by September but most at times they don’t but when PAC summons them in full glare of cameras, the documents mysteriously surface.”

IEA chief executive Kwame Owino also called upon parliament to walk the talk in the fight against corruption.

“Parliament needs now needs to act on the auditor general’s reports and makes sure that public funds are used for the correct purposes,” said the respected economist.

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