Kenyan anti-graft body question budget figures

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A Kenyan corruption watchdog has accused the government of inflating figures on a supplementary budget for the second time and called for an independent audit.
Anti-corruption campaigners say many Kenyan civil servants are corrupt and may inflate numbers buried in lists of figures. Officials deny the allegations.
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta had sought an additional 26.5 billion shillings ($339.7 million) in its 2008/09 budget to complete government projects before the reading of the 2009/10 budget in mid-June, Reuters adds.
But independent watchdog Mars Group and legislators found an extra 10.8 million shillings in the supplementary estimates presented by Kenyatta, leading to a parliamentary investigation.
Kenyatta said the discrepancy had been caused by a “typing error”. He was cleared by parliament’s budget and finance committee which said in a final report that human error or a computer glitch had caused the discrepancy.
The report also said that no public funds had been lost, and recommended an independent forensic audit. It further ordered Kenyatta to put the corrected estimates to parliament.
The house passed those estimates last week.
However, Mars Group Executive Director Mwalimu Mati says the revised estimates also have inflated figures.
“The variances between the revisions contained in the first and second versions of the supplementary budget … cannot be a computer error,” Mati said. “They are deliberate.”
Kenyatta was not immediately available for comment.
In a statement, the group urged parliament to recall the second set of estimates and reduce the amount requested by 10.8 billion shillings to correct the books and records for parliament.
They also want an independent forensic audit to be carried out immediately.
Supplementary budgets are normally tabled when the government needs additional funds to complete projects before the main budget is read in mid-June.
East Africa’s biggest economy expanded by only 1.7 percent in 2008 from an impressive 7.1% in 2007, due to post-election violence, a drought and global commodity prices.
Government expects it to grow by a modest 2-3 percent this year.