Prisons Sh6b to settle historical pending bills
BUDGET: State Department of Correctional Services has been handed a Sh6.2 billion economic lifeline by Treasury to sort pending bills dating back to June 2009.
The proposition in a supplementary budget, tabled before legislators on Wednesday, will replenish traders pockets at a time most Kenyans are in dire need of money amid a government imposed partial lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Treasury recommends an increase in budgetary allocation to the department by Sh6 billion to Sh33.3 billion, with Sh957.5 million earmarked for capital expenditure and Sh26.4 billion going to current expenditure.
A total of Sh6.2 billion will be used to settle pending bills to service providers across the country.
“The increase is on account of shortfall in personnel emoluments, operation and maintenance and the provision of Sh6.2 billion to cater for payment of pending bills,” said Treasury in the supplementary estimates.
Commentators reckon payment of the bills will unlock finances to the more than 300 suppliers, providing much needed economic relief to cushion them against the effects of Covid-19 which has contracted the economy with little productive activity being undertaken.
Since June 2009, suppliers have not received payment for goods and services delivered until 2018, with banks disposing their land, houses and vehicles that were used as collaterals.
Former Central Bank of Kenya Governor Njuguna Ndung’u, while speaking on K24 this week, asked the National and County governments “to pay suppliers and contractors to keep them afloat and save their jobs.”
The department hosts 129 correctional institutions out of which nine are maximum security prisons where the suppliers provide a variety of foodstuff and firewood among other things.
They have accused Principal secretary Zeinab Hussein of high-handedness by ordering the stop of any payments and cancelling award notifications given to suppliers before June 2018.
“Any outstanding claims that were incurred before June 30, 2018 were invalidated by three special audits and therefore the department is not in a position to settle these claims,” she said in a notice sent to the suppliers last December. –Noel Wandera