Kenya’s former Auditor General, Edward Ouko is worried gains made by the office over his eight-year tenure are being eroded by delays in picking his successor.
In a televised interview on Tuesday night, Ouko expressed worries the country’s professional auditing standards have fallen and image tarnished.
“I am a bit disappointed we have had to have this gap…Kenya had reached a level where this office had been respected internationally. The office was a leader in the international forum in terms of professionalism,” said Ouko.
The office has remained vacant for nine months since Ouko’s tenure came to an end in August last year.
Last month, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has published 10 names of candidates shortlisted for the position from a list of 64 applicants.
Those shortlisted in the special Gazette Notice issued Friday include, Leonard Lari, Edwin Kipkoech, Benson Ochieng, Silvester Ngei and Elizabeth Wangui.
Others are, Idris Abdi, Meshack Obiero, Nancy Kabui, Paul Wangila and Denis Theuri.
Ouko said with Kenya’s economic muscle of Sh 2 trillion budget, lack of an auditor general looks bad in the eyes of International market leaders.
A number of audit reports have been in abeyance especially those of capital markets and central bank and those that are required by constitution to be reported within a statutory period, he revealed.
Former Auditor General said the delays in picking a successor could be influenced by fears that prospective office bearers would have to go through the struggles he went through.
“Some people shy away from offices when they hear of struggles one goes through and there are a number of factors to attracting the right person,” he said.
He added, “For instance I am yet to get my post service benefits and protection. This is one of the most important issue in attracting the right candidate.”
Allowances that were due by the time he left the office, he said have not been paid and gratuities are being worked on now.
“There is no clear legislation on security of the office and benefits to office bearers. It is difficult to know whether you are secure or not because all my securities were withdrawn,” he said.
Lack of an auditor he said presents a big risk of individuals who would want to dip their hands in public coffers.
He is still yearning for a time the office of Auditor General will get more support and regular communications from the executive at the highest level.
Ouko proposes adoption of a system that allows the Auditor General to publicly present the level of adoption and usage of tax payers funds in line ministries and government departments about two to three months before the national budget is read.
“This will indicate how much is being built on the budget but we currently don’t have that. It is an open secret that people would want more money whether they have used all the money allocated or not used the monies well. It presents as risk that money asked is not fully justifiable in terms of absorption capacity,” he explained.
When he joined office, he notes there was a work backlog of about four years and over time they were cleared that.
By the time “we were leaving office we were doing reports within six months as required by the constitution,”
However, his biggest worry remains erosion of gains made by the office and how the office will pick up and sustain operations in the coming years.
“Looking at my tenure as Auditor General, it was the most fulfilling job I have ever done. I have no regrets. I could have been supported more…I am disappointed because of the continuity of office aspect” he said.