Blow as prisons suppliers to wait longer for Sh6.2b bills
Suppliers to the State Department of Correctional Services will have to wait longer to know whether they will get paid for goods and services they supplied to prisons across the country for 10 years.
This is after Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein said the bills, which amount to Sh6.2 billion, were still subject to scrutiny to establish their authenticity after three previous audits revealed that the debts which were accumulated between June 30, 2009 and June 2018 were “irregular and illegal”.
“Given the nature of the findings of the three audits on these claims, the National Treasury Inter-Agency Pending Bills Closing Committee is checking the claims with care and due diligence in order to give a final verdict. The claimants should be patient and await the outcome of the exercise,” the PS said in a statement yesterday.
The communication by Hussein further dashed hopes of the suppliers, with some fighting auctioning of their properties by banks over unpaid loans, which they took to enable them to make the supplies.
The suppliers had in December last year said despite having historical pending bills, the PS had on two occasions, between 2018 and 2019, returned Sh1.6 billion, each financial year to the National Treasury.
They asked the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to take action against Hussein for “lack of respect”.
But Hussein said the flagging of the bills was the reason for delayed pay after Treasury auditors made a finding that some of the bills were irregular and some were illegal “and therefore the team could not recommend any for payment”.
Treasury special audit team, Hussein said, advised the State Department of Correction Services to commission a special forensic audit to go through the claims and authenticate if there was any that could be settled.
To that effect, the department commissioned a multi-agency taskforce comprising of officers from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission(EACC), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Attorney General’s office, Treasury and internal auditors to conduct the audit.
“The verdict of the multi-agency task force was that none could be settled. However, the team designed a 10 point criteria and advised the Department to consider settling any claims that met the criteria,” the PS said.
A third committee comprising internal auditors, the PS said, was formed to verify if any of the outstanding claims met the criteria but the team recommended to the department that it should not settle any of the claims.
For further due diligence, the State Department, the PS said, wrote to Treasury suggesting that they be looked at by the Pending Bills Closing Committee for further verification and final settlement.
“The Department has since forwarded all the information concerning the claims and the three audit reports to The National Treasury Pending Bills Closing Committee,” she said.