House team calls for talks on loss of taxpayers’ billions

Parliament has invited the National Treasury and other key agencies to discuss legal loopholes where taxpayers have lost billions of shillings every fiscal year.

The meeting convened by National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) seeks to discuss reported late involvement of the Attorney General in the execution of contracts as well as delay in settlement of court awards.

The watchdog committee further seeks deliberation on challenges faced by the Auditor General and MPs in scrutinising expenditure by the national defence and security sector.

The MPs also seek to discuss stalled projects and rising pending bills. In a letter by National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai, the committee has invited the “big 9” for a round table meeting on August 19.

They invited are National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Chief Justice Martha Koome, Attorney General Paul Kariuki, Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

“The meeting will discuss challenges with the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), delays and non-release of exchequer, under-collection and under-reporting of revenues,” Sialai’s letter says.

Other issues include none-engagement and or late involvement of the Attorney General in contracts execution by the MDAs as well as irregular use of private legal counsels.

The committee has flagged out non-settlement of court awards and the role of the AG as some of the loopholes occasioning loss of public resources.

The committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi further cited the shortfall in the collection of revenues and revenue arrears which has adversely affected exchequer releases and budget execution.

The committee has also raised concern over unsecured government land with no ownership documents.

“Strategies for enhancing audit and oversight as investigatory tools for successful investigations by the EACC and prosecution by the ODPP, and delays and non-implementation of the PAC,” adds the invitation letter.

PAC is mandated to examine audited accounts of the three arms of government the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive, as well as constitutional commissions.

The meeting further seeks to address the non-implementation of PAC recommendations by various state agencies.

The round table meeting comes at the backdrop of a standoff between MPs and Chief Justice Martha Koome over alleged multiple and overlapping summonses.

Justice Koome early this month froze further appearances by judicial officers before the Senate and National Assembly, citing overlapping summonses.

The Chief Justice also accused MPs of pursuing “individual interests” and “harassing” judicial officers in the name of undertaking their oversight role.

But Muturi ruled her out, declaring that the Judiciary has no option but to appear before parliamentary committees for scrutiny and to account for public resources.

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