New unit to probe cushy lifestyles

21 Jan, 2018 - 00:01 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

All public office-holders whose lifestyles do not tally with their incomes will be investigated under new anti-corruption measures Government is working on.

The Public Finance Response Unit which will fall under the Auditor-General’s Office and be largely staffed by Finance and Econonic Development Ministry accountants will conduct lifestyle audits periodically and recommend possible prosecution where officials fail to account for their wealth.

Facilitating investigations and penalties will be the Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill, which is likely to become law in March 2018.

Secretary for Finance Mr William Manungo told The Sunday Mail that the measures were in step with Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s 2018 National Budget Statement.

Minister Chinamasa said the State should investigate public officers with “asset bases inconsistent with their level of income”.

Mr Manungo said, “When the minister made the proposal, he made it against the background of the new dispensation, the new thrust that the President is championing, which is greater transparency.

“One issue we want to avoid is a situation where, in the conduct of discharging public duty, of what we call ‘unjust enrichment’ where it’s either at the expense of public service or an extra cost to beneficiaries or anybody who needs service.

“So, lifestyle audits are about ensuring the public servant, in terms of the way they conduct themselves; the way they live, is consistent with the means availed to them.

“It being a process, we would want the audits to become a culture rooted in the way we conduct ourselves as public servants. What we are now doing is institutionalise the whole framework of lifestyle audits. It is not just happening at central Government level but will be extended to local authorities and public enterprises.”

Mr Manungo said authorities were equipping the public to participate in graft-busting, with hotlines being activated.

“Institutionalising (the audits) is one of the administrative issues that we are following up on to ensure Government becomes accessible to the general citizenry in relation to reporting potential abuse of public resources. We are working on that now with all line ministries and other public departments.

“There hasn’t been a coherent follow-up on those observations. So, the Public Finance Response Unit is essential to looking at that. However, in doing so, the unit will also look at lifestyle audits.

“If the Auditor-General observes that public resources in a particular ministry, parastatal or local authority have been abused, the unit will take up the matter; delving into lifestyle audits to determine consistency between lifestyle and resources that have not been accounted for.”

A lifestyle audit involves verification of a person’s personal expenditure patterns to determine if they are consistent with declared taxable income.

Any variances result in declared income being amended and recovery of additional tax.

Kenya introduced such audits after 74 percent of funds spent by government institutions in the 2013-14 financial year could not be properly accounted for.

Share This: