Stop the blame game and clear pending bills

Monday, December 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
The National Treasury building. Photo/PD/Alice Mburu

The National Treasury last month  issued a directive asking county governments and State departments that had not cleared their pending bills to do so before November 30.

At the expiry of the deadline, only 18 counties had complied with the presidential order issued through Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.

To enforce compliance, the Treasury vowed to withhold allocations to those that would fail to either pay or outline a payment plan. 

Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani kept his word and was only ordered to release the cash to the defiant counties by the court, which ruled that he had no legal grounds to deny them funding.

 Even as the pending bills row continues to be a sore point to both National and county governments, nobody has come up with a cogent explanation on why suppliers were never paid.

It has been more of a ping-pong game of blame, with the Treasury painting the counties as the only guilty parties and yet the truth is the National government and other State agencies are equally culpable in this cruel trend that is suffocating small businesses, which are themselves indebted to banks.

 Lives and families have been ruined by the impunity and grand theft at the  counties. It cannot be gainsaid that some unscrupulous individuals in concert with rogue public officials have abused the tendering process and diverted the cash meant for genuine suppliers.

The rampant abuse, misallocation of resources by governors, who run the counties like personal fiefdoms, must be stopped.

 This saga is also being muddied by the retrogressive politics, especially at counties where some governors blatantly refuse to settle pending bills inherited from their predecessors, alleging the tenders were illegally awarded. This is hypocrisy because the same county chief gladly embraced  assets, but want to run away from liabilities. 

There has also been talk that the Controller of Budget had failed to verify the bills for payment. Truth is, because of the skewed nature of tendering, most of those owed were sympathisers of  governors rivals on the last poll— and are, therefore, rivals. Those with such primitive ‘can’t pay, won’t pay’ mentality must be exposed through a thorough audit.

 As we enter what is truly a broke Christmas, there should be a quick resolve to pay the delayed cash by January to enable parents to at least pay school fees for their children.

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