Caritas Kitui, a Catholic Church NGO, has asked Kitui County based Journalists to often seek fact-checking interviews and research to bring greater transparency particularly where public funds are involved.
This aims at creating awareness in Budget Implementation in the county as well as ensuring every coin counts.
During a workshop organised by Caritas Kitui and funded by National Democratic Institute (NDI), Kelvin Muthui project coordinator, governance and advocacy said that the Auditor General and Controller of Budget report indicates misuse of public funds by the county, most recently in 2019-20 but has not been highlighted by the media.
“The controller of budget and Auditor General reports indicate misuse of funds by the Kitui county government but the media did not highlight this and inform the public about the misuse,” said Mutui.
Muthui said journalists play a critical role in democracy and in order to be able to make citizens understand and make informed choices and hold the government and politicians accountable the media must have an accurate understanding of what is happening in their county.
“You should protect democracy on a day-to-day basis, calling out bad behavior when it happens be it the Kitui informing residents, play a role in protecting the integrity and ensure utilisation of public funds in our county,” he added.
According to the 2020-2021 Auditor General report, Kitui’s county recurrent expenses went to 48 per cent, a percentage far beyond recommended 35 per cent, and hence affected development in the county as money that could have been used for development were used to cater recurrent bills.
The Auditor General Reports indicates that manual payroll used by Kitui County government ate 9.9 per cent of its 2021-2022 share which amounts to Sh 400 Million.
“It’s not easy to account for payments made manually, and that’s why you journalists should advocate for the use of Integrated Financial Management System,” he added.
Kennedy Mutisya, an officer working with Caritas Kitui, challenged journalists to use available avenues to educate the public on government projects. He confirmed that there are feeder roads in Kitui County where the contractors were fully paid and work was never completed to date.
“The world is a global village where you all ought to use both mainstream and social media to play an advocacy role and ensure our people are aware how every coin is used,” he said.
Mutisya encouraged Journalists to engage the County Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee to ensure this Committee investigate, inquire and report all matters related to budget as required by Constitution.
NDI and Caritas Kitui have promised to continue training journalists and create awareness on County Budget Implementation reports in different counties around the country.
By Charles Matacho