Tharaka-Nithi County government will not pay Sh342 million, part of the Sh1.07 billion of the pending bills inherited from the previous regime.
An audit report released on Friday at the Kathwana county headquarters revealed that the sum is part of Sh587 million owed to suppliers, contractors, lawyers and unpaid subsistence allowances for staff.
“After a thorough scrutiny of the documents submitted coupled with field visits, the committee has recommended payment of Sh245 million which is 42 percent of Sh587 million,” said Mr Nganga Munyu, leader of team that audited the inherited debt. Mr Munyu is also the county economic advisor.
The audit team said Sh483 million of the debt, 45 percent, is not in dispute and entails unremitted statutory deductions of Sh251 million and Sh123 million for promotion areas, unpaid salaries, unremitted gratuity dues and unpaid health workers’ allowances.
Mr Munyu said that Sh109 million was for nurses’ salaries withheld during last year’s prolonged health workers strike.
In the 670-page report, lack of proof of delivery of goods and services, undone work, poor documentation, lack of certificates for work claimed to have been done among other gaps were reasons cited for not recommending payment of the Sh342 million debt.
The committee also identified procurement irregularities, poor record keeping, and poor management of vehicles, irregular staff recruitment and promotions as other issues which could have largely contributed to the pending bills.
In addition, the committee recommended investigation of a number of people, departments and companies over alleged fraud.
Governor Muthomi Njuki said accumulation of unremitted deductions, promotion arrears, unpaid salaries and allowances marred the former county government led by his predecessor Mr Samuel Ragwa.
“I want to assure the residents of Tharaka Nithi County that my government will implement the recommendations of the committee to avoid pending bills in future,” said Mr Njuki.
Upper Eastern Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) coordinator Ignatius Wekesa said the report will be used in their ongoing investigations.
He warned government employees charged with the responsibility of managing public resources against embezzlement.
Mr Wekesa noted that young people employed by county governments are accumulating wealth in a very short period, raising a lot of questions.
“In very short period, very young people employed in counties drive expensive vehicles that dos not match their earnings,” said Mr Wekesa.
Mr Wekesa said upon completion of ongoing investigations, the commission will start recovering properties earned irregularly.
National government spokesperson, Mr Eric Kiraithe, who attended the function asked EACC to stop empty threats but to arrest and prosecute government officers for stealing public money.