County governments could be headed for tougher times after the Controller of Budget (CoB) issued new guidelines on withdrawal of funds.
In a circular addressed to all county finance executives, Dr Margaret Nyakang'o said she had identified gaps in Exchequer documentation and demanded to be supplied with details of expenditure.
Among the gaps Dr Nyakang'o wants addressed by counties include making available the list of county employees outside the payroll system (popularly known as the IPPD), casual employees and Internet banking reports to enable her office make approvals for withdrawal of funds.
"We have noted that counties have in their payroll three clusters of staff described as staff with personal numbers, staff without personal numbers and casual staff," Dr Nyakang'o said. She directed counties to accompany their Exchequer requisitions with a schedule of staff details, but governors feel this will cause delayed approvals for already financially struggling units.
The governors see the latest move as intended to cause delays in approval of funds to counties. The Council of Governors (CoG), through a circular dated February 10, protested the move and threatened to seek legal redress.
The CoG accused Dr Nyakang'o of failing to facilitate timely approvals and usurping the mandate of the Auditor-General and the Senate.
The CoG chairman, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, told Dr Nyakang'o that her key function is facilitating implementation of national and county government budgets by authorising withdrawals from public funds and not auditing.
Dr Nyakang'o wants full staff details, including names, job titles, date employed and gross monthly salary. She further wants an explanation as to why staff members without personal numbers are yet to be captured in the payroll, indicating "an acceptable time frame within which they will be captured".
"For casual employees, an explanation should be provided in cases where they have worked for more than the three months allowed in the Employment Act," wrote Dr Nyakang'o. But Mr Oparanya told Dr Nyakang'o that county governments implement their budgets upon approval of the County Appropriation Act.
"This is achieved through the process of public participation and subsequent approval by the county assembly. Any changes to the approved budget can only be done through a supplementary budget.
"The request from your office on the provision of additional documentation to facilitate your approval of withdrawal of funds amounts to auditing," said Mr Oparanya.
"Please note that there are constitutional offices such as the Auditor-General and the Senate mandated to have the oversight role of the county governments' expenditure."