Weak Internal Audit Control mechanisms have been cited as an impediment to proper financial reporting, even as county finance officials grapple with balancing their financial statements.
The Public Finance Management (PFM) Peer Learning Forum sitting in Nyandarua County, revealed that most counties whose accounting was queried by the Auditor General, lacked strong Internal Audit systems in place with some having no Audit Committees in place, against the law.
” The PFM Act demands that the counties put in place Audit Committees that work to enhance transparency and accountability of public finance,” World Bank’s Senior Public Sector Specialist, Christine Owuor said.
Makueni and Nyandarua Counties that were earlier this year given Unqualified Audit Reports for adhering to proper accounting practices, shared their experience of strong internal controls that have ensured watertight procurement and project implementation processes.
“We ensure scrutiny of our plans to spend before we do post auditing, when the money is already spend,” Mary Kimanzi, Makueni County Executive (CEC) Member for finance said.
Her Nyandarua counterparts acknowledged the challenges that come with devolution include the public raising high expectations against the few staff to deliver.
“Ours is to work the project through from its conception to implementation and finally audit. This of course coupled with participatory planning where we allow the public to give their inputs all throughout the process,” noted Acting Chief Officer, Muigai Wainaina.
The participants also noted low manpower to scrutinize the county books, adding that the loophole provided a cover-up for multi billions lost at the grassroots.
“Many projects by the counties that remain unused is a clear indication that there was no value for money. What we are, therefore, left wondering is what opportunity cost have we incurred had we spend on other needy projects,” added John Mutua, of the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Mutua also noted that failure to reconcile books of account and lack of supporting documents coupled with pending bills, were recurring Audit issues that the counties needed to work on.
“With strong internal audit units as well as the county assemblies doing their oversight role, we expect to see a reduction of these recurrent queries,” added the Economist.
By Anne Sabuni