Kenya: Senate Orders Audit Probe on County Covid-19 Budgets

Activists led by Haki Africa’s Hussein Khalid and rights crusader Wanjeri Nderi.

Nairobi — The Senate Ad Hoc committee on COVID-19 has written to Auditor General Nancy Gathungu and Controller of Budget Margret Nyakang'o asking them to conduct special audits on the utilization of COVID-19 funds by county governments.

This is after the committee noted that some counties have diverted the COVID-19 funds to other areas not related to COVID-19 interventions. There also concerns of misappropriation of funds in some cases.

The committee, in the requests submitted to the offices of the Auditor General and Controller of Budget, wants the Auditor General to conduct a special audit in all the 47 counties in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, covering the period from when the first case was reported in the country on March 13 until July 31, 2020.

"At its 73 rd meeting, the Ad Hoc committee on the COVID-19 situation noted that some of the funds disbursed to County Governments towards prevention and management of COVID-19 pandemic may have been diverted to other areas or could have been misapplied or misappropriated," the letters read.

The Auditor General will be required to review and establish whether the county governments had approved work plans, procurement plans, and training plans specific to COVID-19 activities and if the funds were spent in accordance with approved plans.

She will also be required to check on irregularities involving the misuse of public funds and identify related weaknesses in management controls that may imperil the integrity of the organization and the effective implementation of budgetary and other policy decisions.

The Auditor General is expected to file a response by September 4, 2020.

Further, the committee tasked the Controller of Budget to conduct a special budget review implementation report on utilization of funds by county governments towards COVID-19 interventions.

She is required to file a response report by August 21, 2020.

The funds in question amount to Sh5 billion conditional grants disbursed by the national government to counties in June, with an aim of boosting the level of readiness in county health facilities.

The county governments were required to use the funds in provision of testing and medical equipment, provision of adequate isolation facilities and Intensive Care Unit facilities in each county.

The funds are also to be used in enhancing capacity and ensuring protection, safety and well-being of health workers.

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