REPORT FINDINGS FOR KITUI COUNTY
By BONIFACE MULU
The stakeholders for a public dialogue forum orgainised by the Caritas Kitui in partnership with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Friday, March 10, 2023 discussed the Auditor General Report findings for the Kitui County Executive’s 2018-2019 and 2019-2021 financial years’ budgets.
The event was held at the Kitui Parkside Villa Hotel in Kitui Town. Lecturing the participants, the Institute of Economic Affairs Public Finance Management Programme Officer Raphael Muya said the IEA is a people’s think tank. “We the institute engage the public in terms of the public education,” he said.
Muya said they have been conducting public education in three of the Kenya’s 47 counties namely Busia, Kisumu and Kitui. “We have been discussing the three counties’ 2018-2019 and 2021-2022 financial years’ budgets and that is why we are here,” the IEA official said.
That is what we do as an institute, he added. The IEA’s objectives are to analyse the trends in areas of misappriation and determine gaps for public overtime in the three counties’ spending and appropriation among others, according to him.
The institute is to improve the ability of the citizens, civic groups and political actors to advocate for and operationalise greater public financial accountability at the county level based on analysis of key budget documents.
The institute is to enhance better knowledge and understanding of the county profile for connected thinking and public discourse, according to Muya. “Without proper engagement of the stakeholders, it is impossible to have a common ability agreement, ownership and support for a particular project,” he said.
And he added that the stakeholder engagement is a critical element to the success of the budget process. The financial expert also talked about the trust building-connect and interaction with the county executive and the county assembly during the budget implementation.
Muya said the county executive should have in place a risk management and disaster recovery plan. “The County Government Public Finance Management 2014 Section 158(1) stipulates that the county governments should develop risk management and internal control that builds robust business operations,” the official added.
He also said the county government should put up functional structures to ensure that the county projects that are stalled and incomplete are prioritised for completion so that the residents can access services from such facilities.
With its headquarters in London, the United Kingdom, the Institute of Economic Affairs was founded in 1955. And Safina Barua from the National Democratic Institute also lectured the participants where she said the NDI is about transparency.
“We the NDI have been partnering with the IEA and the Caritas Kitui for over a year. Today is the culmination of what we have been doing in the three counties for over a year,” the NDI official said.
The National Democratic Institute was founded in 1983 and its headquarters are in Washington DC in the United States. Kevin Kitonga Muthui from the Caritas Kitui also lectured the participants where he was representing the Caritas Kitui Director Florence Ndeti at the function.
The Caritas Kitui is the Kitui Catholic Diocese’s development arm. The Kitui County Assembly Public Investment Committee Chairperson Gabriel Mutunga Munyao addressed the event among others. Munyao is also the Kitui County Assembly Member for Kauwi Ward in Kitui West Constituency.
“I am not in the county assembly to protect the people who steal public money,” the County Assembly Member said. “We won’t allow the public resources to be looted,” he said.