Nairobi, Nakuru top counties with high unpaid bills
Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa lead the list of county governments with highest pending bills which may not be paid, it has been revealed.
Figures released by the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) yesterday show that Nairobi had the highest amount of ineligible pending bills at Sh11.2 billion as at June 25, this year.
It is followed by Nakuru with Sh2 billion ineligible pending bills and Mombasa with Sh1.8 billion.
Other county governments with alarmingly high ineligible pending bills include Kwale (Sh1.6 billion), Homa Bay (Sh1.3 billion), Turkana (Sh1.14 billion), Laikipia (Sh911.9 million) and Embu (Sh877.5 million).
County governments with the lowest amounts of pending bills with queries include Makueni (Sh1.8 million), Kakamega (Sh2.7 million), Baringo (Sh21.7 million), Busia (Sh40.5 million) and Narok with Sh48 million, according to the figures released by the CRA.
The commission’s chairperson, Dr Jane Kiringai, expressed concern that the huge amounts of ineligible pending bills pointed to financial mismanagement on the part of the affected county governments, many of which had their governors elected in the 2017 General Election.
“Ineligible pending bills is a cause for concern since it is imprudent financial management.
It is important that Parliament, National Treasury and the Office of the Controller of Budget to put in place control measures to ensure that procurement processes are adhered to and that county governments pay their pending bills on time,” she noted.
Previously, governors, especially those elected to office in 2017, have been fingered for refusing to pay pending bills incurred by their predecessors on grounds that they were dished out to relatives and political cronies of the former county bosses without due regard to procurement rules.
Speaking while releasing recommendations on the basis for equitable sharing of revenue between national and county governments for financial year 2022-2023, Kiringai revealed that some 25 county governments had eligible pending bills totaling Sh11.4 billion by end of June this year.
However, some 22 others do not have any eligible pending bills while all the 47 county governments had ineligible outstanding pending bills, amounting to Sh31.6 billion.
Nairobi again tops the list of county governments with eligible pending bills, which stood at Sh6.6 billion as at June 25, 2021, followed by Mombasa (Sh1.6 billion), Isiolo (Sh567.1 million), Vihiga (Sh421.9 million) and Kirinyaga (Sh421.6 million).
The county governments without any eligible pending bills include Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Embu, Homa Bay, Kajiado and Kakamega. Others are Kericho, Kilifi, Kitui, Kwale, Laikipia, Lamu, Makueni, Marsabit, Murang’a, Nandi and Nyamira.
Also in this category are Nyandarua, Nyeri, Taita Taveta, Tana and Wajir county governments, Kiringai revealed.
She, however, absolved some of the county governments from blame over unpaid bills, saying they had inherited them from defunct local authorities while others were carried forward from the first county governments.
“A significant amount of pending bills across different counties have been classified by the office of the Auditor General special report. These ineligible pending bills amounted to Sh31.6 billion as at June 2021,” said Kiringai.
She warned that the magnitude of the pending bills should concern the Senate, County Assemblies and the National Treasury given their oversight responsibilities.
She also fingered the national government for accumulating a total of Sh36.3 billion in pending bills as at June 30, 2021.
Covid -19 pandemic effects
The State Department of Public Service had the highest pending bills at Sh14.7 billion, followed by the State Department for Transport Sh6 billion, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Sh2.7 billion, Wildlife Sh2.6 billion, Regional and Northern Corridor Sh2.2 billion, Crop Development and Agricultural Research Sh18 billion and Sports Sh1.14 billion.
The report further reveals that the State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications had ineligible pending bills worth 370.9 million, IEBC (Sh170.8 million), State Department for Sports (Sh66.6 million), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Sh16.6 million), Correctional Services (Sh15.7 million), National Treasury (Sh4.2 million), Planning (Sh3.6 million) and Mining (Sh2.6 million).
Data from the Controller of Budget shows that bills for the financial year 2020/21 for the national government stood at Sh1.24 billion as at June 30, 2021.
The national government’s arrears on payments to contractors and suppliers increased by 8 per cent in the year through June, adding to the pain businesses are enduring from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The outstanding claims continue to skyrocket even after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive more than a year ago to the national government to quickly settle them.
Last year, National Treasury Ukur Yatani issued a circular to the Attorney General, all Cabinet Secretaries, Accounting Officers (Principal Secretaries) directing them to give priority to pending bills especially State Corporations and Semi-Autonomous Agencies (SAGAS).
“Implementation of activities by accounting officers without approved budgets and or failing to pay for legally incurred expenditures is responsible for continued accumulation of pending bills and constitutes an offence under section 74 of the PFMA (2012),” Yatani wrote.