27 May 2009

And He Wants to be the Next Pres…

Blunders or sabotage? Uhuru's new headache

By OLIVER MATHENGEPosted Monday, May 25 2009 at 21:40

IN SUMMARY

  • Lobby group claims budget passed by MPs last Thursday also has a Sh10 billion hole

The government was on Monday headed for more embarrassment after a lobby group wrote to Parliament pointing out fresh errors in the supplementary budget approved by MPs only last week.

The group is demanding thorough investigations into the budget before the main Budget is read next month.

Last month, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta had to withdraw the supplementary budget after the same NGO, Mars Group, pointed out mistakes amounting to Sh10 billion.

Typing errors

The minister said they were typing errors, an explanation accepted by the House.

Now Mars Group is questioning the new figures and has asked Parliament to apply pressure on the government to audit the new supplementary budget.

The group on Monday accused the Treasury of “cooking” the figures and prepared a memorandum outlining its allegations.

Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua later said the government had “noted” and was “studying” the Mars Group claims.

Mr Kenyatta and Finance permanent secretary Joseph Kinyua could not be reached the whole day and were said to be going over the figures afresh.

Mars Group claimed an analysis of the new supplementary budget raised serious concerns, which require further investigation as part of a forensic audit.

The group claims that the Treasury changed portions of the government book to balance the figures while leaving the total amount it was requesting intact.

“The Independent Forensic Audit as recommended by the Joint Committee Report should be formed to commence its work immediately and should complete its report ahead of the National Budget 2009-10, in order to restore public confidence in the budget books of the Ministry of Finance,” Mars Group director Mwalimu Mati said on Monday.

The chairman of the parliamentary budget committee, Mr Martin Ogindo, who was present said he had noted the concerns and would forward them to his team.

Earlier revelations of a Sh10 billion discrepancy in the budget in April are being investigated by the CID.

Mr Mati and his team say that the Treasury adjusted the estimates as directed by Parliaments but failed to amend the Supplementary Appropriations Bill, 2009. This, Mr Mati said, could mean MPs approved the wrong sums.

He also accused the Treasury of shifting money from one vote to another to cover up the Sh10.7 billion problem identified in the earlier estimates.

By doing its own calculations and going over the details of the budget line by line, Mars Group said the total of Sh26,087,512,713 which the Treasury says the country needs to run until June is overstated by Sh163,799,077.

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