Senate piles pressure on counties to clear Sh16b bills
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Senators have joined the National Treasury and the Controller of Budget (CoB) in piling pressure on the County governments to clear pending bills amounting to Sh16.13 billion.
The legislators, however, blamed the National Treasury for the pending bills and stalled projects, citing delays in disbursement of cash to devolved units.
In its fifth progress report to the House on Tuesday, the Senate ad hoc Committee on Covid-19 said Treasury should comply with rules and regulations set by the oversight bodies to facilitate timely disbursements of funds.
The committee further urged counties to adhere to agreements made with COB and National Treasury on payments of verified bills.
“The payment of pending bills by county governments does not reflect business growth in the counties, as most of the businesses are struggling with liquidity challenges to spur economic activities,” the committee report reads in part.
“There is lack of timely Exchequer releases to the counties although the law requires that the county’s share of revenue shall be transferred to the county without undue delay. This has resulted in accumulation of pending bills and stalled projects,”
As at April 30, counties had settled Sh35.15 billion of the eligible pending bills reported by the Office of the Auditor General, with an outstanding balance of Sh16.13 billion collectively.
During the House session, the senators adopted the report and asked the counties to comply with rules set out by CoB and Treasury for easy and faster releases of the monies.
Last week, CoB Margaret Nyakang’o submitted to the committee that 28 counties have received low percentage of disbursement because of their failure to pay their debts.
Some nine counties account for 83 per cent of the Sh16.13 billion debt. Nairobi, Siaya, Isiolo, Samburu and Turkana some of the counties with the biggest debts and as a result, have received the lowest percentage of disbursement—about half of their annual allocation with barely two months left to the end of the end of the financial year.
Nairobi has received only 51 per cent – the lowest percentage of disbursement , amounting to Sh 8.07 billion of its Sh15.91 billion allocation.
The county is yet to clear Sh7.15 billion eligible pending bills accumulated over time.
Isiolo, Siaya Samburu and Turkana have all received up to only 55 per cent of their annual allocations as at May 4 because of their slow pace of settling the bills.
Only 19 counties had cleared their bills as at April 30. They are Kajiado, Kakamega, Kericho, Kilifi, Kitui, Kwale, Laikipia, Lamu, Makueni, Nandi, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Nyeri and Taita Taveta. Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Embu and Homa-Bay have also cleared their bills.