EDITORIAL: Auditor-General’s hiring must be finalised quickly

Editorials

EDITORIAL: Auditor-General’s hiring must be finalised quickly

Former Auditor-General Edward Ouko. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Reports that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) cannot submit its financials to Parliament because the country lacks a substantive Auditor-General to sign the books makes for the latest official admission of an avoidable imbroglio.

A week ago, Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC and East African Portland Cement Company #ticker:PORT also went public about their inability to publish financial results for the year ended June, 2018, due to the absence of a new Auditor-General.

In recent days, two other listed State-owned firms – Kenya Re #ticker:KNRE and KenGen #ticker:KEGN – have also gone public about their inability to meet the statutory deadlines.

We can only take an early opportunity to urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to move with speed and conclude the recruitment of the country’s next Auditor-General after the Selection Panel interviewed candidates three weeks ago.

The Capital Markets Authority, perhaps egged on by that recruitment process, has since extended the deadline for submission of results by State-owned companies to November 30.

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Failure by State firms to meet deadlines is just a tip of the iceberg. The amount of the national resources shareable to the 47 counties depend on the efficiency of the Auditor General’s office. Under the Constitution, the allocation to counties should be at least 15 percent of latest audited government revenues approved by Parliament.

That law has had the National Treasury lagging five to three financial years in its revenue sharing base period since the devolved units were introduced in 2012.

The current vacuum at the Auditor-General’s office may stretch the base year for measuring revenues even further.

Once again, we want to point out that the Auditor- General’s office is such a crucial institution to be left vacant. That the State did not take steps to plan the succession of Edward Ouko throughout his eight-year tenure is, to say the least, baffling.

When he left office in August, Mr Ouko proposed that the Public Audit Act be changed not only to incorporate succession of the occupant by also to make the Auditor-General’s reports final. At the moment, such reports have to be reviewed by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, the Public Investment Committee, and the Senate before being cleared for official use.

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