MPs give nod to publication of AG replacement Bill

Thursday, July 20th, 2023 00:01 | By
MPs in the Parliament Chambers.
MPs in the Parliament Chambers. PHOTO/Print

A house committee has approved the publication of a bill that will require a sitting president to initiate the process of appointing a new Auditor General six months before the expiry of the term of the holder of the said office.

The committee on Finance and National Planning chaired by Molo MP Kuria Kimani said that the Public Audit Amendment Bill 2023 sponsored by Sirisia MP John Waluke will be introduced in the house next week when the National Assembly reconvenes after its two weeks’ break.

Kuria said that they had approved the bill to avoid a similar situation that happened when former Auditor General Edward Ouko’s terms expired and the position was forced to remain vacant for more than one year.

Said Kuria: “Yes we have approved the bill and we hope it will come up for first reading next week when we reconvene.”

Speaking after appearing before the committee to defend the bill, Waluke explained that his decision had been promoted by the fact that there is a lacuna in law since the current law does not expressly provide for timelines when the process should commence upon arising a vacancy or as a result of a pending declaration of a vacancy on expiry of a term.

At the moment, the Public Audit Act has no clear provisions for a transition unless the previous office holder dies, resigns, or is removed.

“Despite subsection (1), the president shall initiate the process of filling a vacancy in the office of the auditor general at least six months before the expiry of the term of the auditor General under article 229 (3) of the constitution,” reads the bill.

No procedure

Waluke in his statement said that there is a need to have the law in place to avoid a situation like the one the country was left with when Ouko retired as there was no procedure in place to kick-start his replacement.

He said the process of hiring a new auditor general should be put into law so that a smooth transition is done each and every time the office remains vacant for proper arrangements to be put in place if the holder is facing imminent retirement or is incapacitated.

During this transition time, he claimed various government officials took advantage to fleece Kenyans of their hard-earned money as they were aware there was no accountability on their part. He said: “For a long while, everything was in limbo as the government struggled to undertake his replacement. Before the current officer was appointed and went through all the process, it had taken several months, with such a sensitive office remaining without a sustentative head.”

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