The ongoing grilling of governors on corruption is a waste of time unless loopholes in the Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis) are addressed, county bosses have said.
The governors’ remarks came as the Commission on Revenue Allocation defended the system, saying the theft should be blamed on individuals.
Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya put the blame squarely at Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich’s doorstep, for failure to release a report commissioned to audit the system’s efficiency.
On Tuesday, Mr Munya asked why the Treasury “would sit on the report” yet the auditor-general had confirmed that public funds were being misappropriated in the counties.
Mr Munya told the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee at Parliament buildings that a committee had been established following concerns about the system, but it had never met to conclude the report for action.
Mr Munya said the committee will officially petition the Senate by Friday to investigate the delay. He absolved governors of blame saying they did not have direct control of the system.
“I don’t have a Pin to the system. Even if you call a governor 20 times amid all the drama and ask him to sit for six hours to record a statement, it does not help,” Mr Munya said.
STEALING FROM COUNTIES
But speaking in Mombasa revenue allocation team chairman Micah Cheserem and the Information Communication and Technology Authority chief executive Robert Mugo said those stealing from counties should not use Ifmis as an excuse but take responsibility.
Mr Cheserem said Ifmis was not blame for the loss of cash in the counties but “individuals with names”.
“Thieves will remain thieves and should be known by that name. They don’t come from family, tribal institutions, political party affiliation, ethnicity or region. They are all corrupt individuals and, therefore, thieves who should be held responsible as so,” he said.
He spoke during the annual county revenue automation conference at Whitesands Beach Hotel.
Mr Cheserem said he hoped more judges would be recruited and anti-graft agencies and the police strengthened to deal with corruption.
Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and his Uasin Gishu counterpart Jackson Mandago told the conference there ought to be autonomous infotech systems for counties.
“One of the biggest problems we have with the Ifmis is the security architecture. I know Treasury will deny, but with one administrator, he can create all the users in each and every county. That same administrator can run transactions and delete an audit trail of the same,” said Mr Mandago.
Automating finances in counties would eliminate corruption and infuse efficiency in revenue collection, said the two governors.
“Kiambu County has been digitized fully and experience from there shows that ICT is the way to go,” said Mr Kabogo.
He said county governments must ensure Ifmis ledger reports are in conformity with financial regulations to deal with unscrupulous people who manipulate the system to engage in financial malpractices.
Mr Munya sought to clarify that governors are not opposed to the system but they want serious financial flaws that has made the system open to manipulation fixed to ensure financial irregularities are detected well before funds are lost.
He said independent audit firms have advised that the system must be upgraded to include safeguards that will make it difficult for people to collude to steal public funds.
“Why are some of the functions on the system not activated? Who is delaying activation of these safeguards? Is there someone somewhere not in a hurry to provide the safeguards?” Mr Munya asked.