Public officials barred from withdrawing documents submitted to PAC

By: JOHN NGIRACHU

Civil servants and accounting officers will no longer be allowed to withdraw documents they have submitted to the Public Accounts Committee, its chairman, Mr Nicolas Gumbo, has said.

Mr Gumbo said the practice, which has been allowed at the committee before, would not continue because of the confusion it brings.

He spoke after the committee met Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi and other top officers of the institution.

“Any paper that you have presented here shall be your document. You will not be allowed to withdraw it. Have your initials on every page,” he told Ms Amadi.

ASSET REGISTER

Two weeks ago, Planning Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti was allowed to withdraw a controversial asset register he submitted that provoked a storm as it showed what appeared to be inflated expenses.

Coordination of National Government Principal Secretary Josephta Mukobe was also given more time to get her papers in order and provide a coherent account of the stalled process of getting a new vehicle number plate system in place.

On Tuesday morning, Ms Amadi was scheduled to answer queries raised in the audit for the 2013/2014 financial year but asked for one more week as she was not prepared for the meeting.

Mr Gumbo and Junet Mohammed (Suna East, ODM) were, however, angered by the request, which has become common whenever an accounting officer finds himself or herself hard-pressed and unable to respond to queries.

“Personally, I am disappointed because it is happening here every other week. Some have come here and claimed they didn’t have capacity,” he added.

COMMON TREND

Mr Mohammed said the trend has become common in the Executive, whose accounts are under scrutiny. Ideally, the responses to the auditor’s queries should have been submitted by September 2014.

“The time from the audit till now is 13 months. Thirteen months later, this accounting officer is asking for more time. It’s becoming common in government. One came here and said they don’t have the capacity to respond,” said Mr Mohammed.

He lamented that if the committee was to allow more time for accounting officers to get their act together, the PAC would end up with a pile of pending reports to scrutinise.

Among the Auditor-General’s queries regarding the Judiciary was a decision to lease printers, scanning and photocopy services from MFI Management Document Solution Ltd at Sh51.1 million per year for three years.

“There was no justification as to why the Judiciary decided to enter into a leasing agreement, which in three years would translate to a cost of Sh153.4 million instead of buying their own equipment.

VALUE FOR MONEY

“In the circumstances, it has not been possible to determine whether the Judiciary got value for money in the lease agreement,” said the Auditor-General.

The Auditor-General also pointed out unsupported payments of Sh84.2 million from the deposits account, Sh377.3 million in domestic travel and subsistence and the payment of Sh1.7 million as rent without supporting documents.

The PAC has already tabled a separate report on a special audit of the Judiciary, with Speaker Justin Muturi set to rule this week on whether it will be discussed without the input of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION