About a quarter of Kenya’s last Sh1.6 trillion budget cannot be adequately accounted for, the auditor general has said.
Commentators said the report by Auditor General Edward Ouko’s office exposed the scale of official corruption in Kenya, east Africa’s biggest economy, which investors often cite as a hurdle to doing business there.
In the report released late on Tuesday, the auditor general said 2014/15 spending worth Sh450 billion was not properly accounted for, demonstrating “persistent and disturbing problems in collection and accounting for revenue”.
“Corruption thrives in a big way in government offices, yet little is being done to arrest the situation,” he said.
“We must end the culture of misuse of state resources. Those implicated must be seized and punished.”
Spending cited in the auditor’s report included Sh113 billion in “unconfirmed subscriptions” to international bodies, and an unexplained over-payment of Sh38 billion by the Transport Ministry.
The figure did not include an audit of county spending, which was done separately.
“As reported under the respective revenue statements, the discrepancies are mainly due to unexplained and unreconciled differences between revenue statement balances and the exchequer records maintained by the National Treasury,” the report said.
The report was released shortly after Obama called on Kenyans at the weekend to do more to end graft to help the economy grow faster.
“Here in Kenya, it’s time to change habits, and decisively break that cycle, because corruption holds back every aspect of economic and civil life,” said Obama, whose father was Kenyan.
Obama said the government had to show it was tackling corruption with prominent prosecutions, adding that it was an issue that also needed to be addressed elsewhere in Africa.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said the fight against graft was a priority when he took office in 2013, but critics complain that too little has been done.
Uhuru promised in March to take personal charge of the battle against corruption and said that any official being investigated for graft must step aside.
Transport CS Michael Kamau has been charged over abuse of office, while Lands CS Charity Ngilu has been charged with obstructing an investigation.
A spokesman for Uhuru and the Transport ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Past Kenyan governments have made similar commitments to fight corruption, only to have the campaigns fizzle away.