Counties ignore Treasury CS pending bills directive

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019 00:00 |
Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani. PD/Gerald Ithana

Treasury’s directive to counties to pay pending bills before December lapsed but contractors and suppliers are still lining up hoping to get paid.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation  by county tender committees, suppliers said their efforts have been thwarted for years by procurement and finance departments, saying they expected nothing after expiry of the deadline.

Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani had warned some 15 counties namely Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Narok, Machakos, Vihiga, Isiolo, Tana River, Migori, Tharaka-Nithi, Bomet, Kirinyaga, Nandi, Garissa and Baringo risked losing out on cash transfers if they do not settle pending bills.

Victimisation fears

During a Senate Finance Committee meeting yesterday with acting Controller of Budget Stephen Masha, however, it emerged that Baringo County had settled payments by end of the month.

Speaking to Business Hub, suppliers and contractors registered their frustrations in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, Homa Bay and Mombasa, saying procurement and finance departments keep “losing invoices” whenever complaints are lodged.

Saying they do not want to be mentioned for fear of victimisation, suppliers in Nakuru said some debts date back to 2013. They are now wary of taking up government tenders which have drained their resources.

The arrears, the contractors say, were for works done on construction of roads, hospitals and market sheds, distribution of water, supply of medicines and electrical equipment, among others.

“I have not been paid my Sh12 million debt since 2013 despite providing my services to the county,” said a supplier, who did not want to be named.

A contractor, who had supplied goods worth Sh6.8 million in Mombasa, said he delivered office equipment in 2015 and has never been paid. “My invoices and other supporting documents have gone missing. I have been forced to restart the claim process three time,” said the supplier, who also sought anonymity. He said some colleagues who supplied goods and services to the county had to close shop, while others lost their property to auctioneers for non-payment of bank loans.

Such cases mirror hundreds of suppliers across the country who bemoan unpaid dues. Mombasa County Executive Committee Member for Finance Mariam Mbaruk could not respond to questions regarding payment of pending bills.

In Kisumu and Homa Bay, contractors had already petitioned their county governments to pay their dues running into millions of shillings.

Opening budget

Willis Omondi, the proprietor of Muzrah Construction Company Ltd, says the county owes his company Sh7.7 million, an amount which dates back to 2016.

“We don’t understand why the county government is delaying in paying us yet money had been released from the Treasury,” said Omondi.

A petition tabled in the County Assembly in July sought payments from governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s administration for services rendered between 2014 and 2019 as opening balance on the current financial year budget. In Homa Bay County, more than 300 contractors are pushing the county government to pay them Sh1.8 billion in arrears.

A supplier and contractors have been blacklisted by the credit reference bureaus (CRBs) for failing to service their bank loans, adding that it is becoming hard to secure new loans.– Murimi Mutiga, Reuben Mwambingu, Novel Owiti and Roy Lumbe

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