Rotich accuses Auditor-General of being unprofessional

Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich has challenged the Auditor-General’s claim that Sh66.8 billion from the 201314 budget was spent irregularly by various ministries, departments and agencies.

Instead, he accused Mr Edward Ouko’s office of acting unprofessionally, getting their numbers wrong and ignoring supporting documents provided.

In a statement released Thursday, Mr Rotich said that requested documents were provided at the final stages of the audit review because the Kenya National Audit Office (Kenao) gave accounting officers very little time to respond.

However, he said, “these documents were not taken into account before the audit report was submitted to the National Assembly”.

“Further, the Office of the Auditor General did not hold final audit review meetings (exit meetings) with most accounting officers,” the minister said.

“This would have provided an opportunity for them to clarify any outstanding issues, including provision of supporting documents.”

Exit interviews, he added, are required under international auditing standards.

“Most of the issues raised relate to reconciliations and alleged missing supportive documents rather than misappropriation of public funds,” Mr Rotich said. “Treasury has since established no resources were lost.”

The ministry’s review, he says, showed up “errors” in the Auditor General’s report instead, such as the claim that Sh2.7 billion of the Attorney-General’s S.3 billion budget was misreported or misappropriated.

The claim, Rotich says, was not in the draft report shared with the Accounting Officer and makes no sense since Sh1 billion of the budget went to personnel emoluments and another Sh1.2 billion was transfers to State Corporations.

“The National Treasury would not like to see the annual audit exercise reduced to a ritual for tainting the integrity of public offices and a national executive committed to good governance,” Rotich said.

“It is imperative that offices mandated with critical oversight functions, such as the Auditor General, do not compromise professional standards by making conclusions without thorough engagement with (their)lients to resolve any outstanding audit matters.”

The Council of Governors (CoG) has also come out fighting over the county reports released earlier by Kenao, saying that their responses to audit queries were also not incorporated in the final reports.

“We note that most of the responses that had been provided to the auditors’ queries were not incorporated in the final version of the report,” Peter Munya, the CoG chairman said Thursday. “In some counties, the input from management was disregarded or not sought at all.”

Mr Ouko’s reports shows hundreds of questionable payments, dodgy contracts, poor book-keeping and concealments across the entire government structure with very few entities receiving a clean bill of health.

Only one per cent of government spending, Mr Ouko found, was properly accounted for.