We will only pay genuine pending bills – Sonko
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has insisted that the county will only pay legitimate suppliers upon verification of services offered.
The governor, who appeared before the Senate committee on finance alongside other governors, urged the National Treasury to appraise itself with the financial recovery plan agreed between the national government and City Hall in 2018.
He noted that it will be in bad taste for the Treasury to suspend transfer of funds to the county after a successful process by the pending bills committee that he set up.
The governor said he inherited pending bills of Sh60 billion which accumulated during past regimes at City Hall.
“When I assumed office in August 2017, I inherited pending bills amounting to over Sh66 billion, most of which I believed were fictitious given the history of people supplying “air" to Nairobi before,” he told the committee.
Sonko formed a Pending Bills Verification Committee, which was chaired by Prof. PLO Lumumba, and after months of verification, the committee issued a verdict that pending bills worth Sh23 billion qualified as legitimate.
The county would later move to court to challenge various claims and secured orders setting aside the many suspect garnishee orders in line with the Government Proceedings Act of 2015.
“These efforts saved the county government over Sh40 billion, despite offers by the cartels to give me 10% if I paid their fake claims,” he said.
Further, the Auditor General requested and audited the list verified by the Lumumba-led Committee, and declared pending bills worth Sh11 billion as legitimate.
He ordered a further scrutiny into the others.
So far, City Hall has paid a total of Sh4.1 billion in pending bills.
Some Sh2 billion went to the Kenya Revenue Authority for debts accrued by the previous administration.
“Discontinuing the transfer of funds to Nairobi will create a crisis of unfathomable proportions, as it will cripple the delivery of critical services to Wananchi and disrupt payment of salaries to our workers, which we always do before the close of every month since I assumed office,” Sonko said.
The national government owes City Hall over Sh400 billion accrued by state parastatals.
There has been little commitment from the government to address the issue.
This is why the county entered into a financial recovery agreement with the National Treasury.
The committee chairman Mohamed Mohamoud urged the governors to work closely with their respective senators and MCAs to find a solution on how to clear the bills.
“This is a very serious matter and we are hoping that you settle down as leaders and find a long lasting solution,” Mohamoud said.
Governor Sonko urged Senators to stop unnecessary attacks on county bosses without gathering relevant facts.
Sonko used the Controller of Budget Report for 2018/19 to highlight positives in terms of budget implementation.
Nandi Senator Samsom Cherargei said: “There are a lot of cartels as governor Sonko has put it. I think this issue should be revisited. But 2nd term Governors should give us concrete answers on how to sort out these issues.”
This was echoed by Senator Rose Nyamunga.
Senator Moses Wetangula said: “It seems there’s weaknesses in counties. We must also get facts from the Auditor General's report. This matter seems to be very serious. There’s an outcry from Governors that we change PFM Act. I think this will bring some order especially on those taking loans. I agree we must scrutinize these pending bills.”