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Last day for counties to clear Sh51bn bills

Thursday July 11 2019

Council of Governors

From left: Governors Mwangi wa Iria, Wycliffe Oparanya and Ferdinand Waititu after a consultative meeting between the Council of Governors and the office of the Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget in Nairobi on May 7, 2019. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KENNEDY KIMANTHI
By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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Friday is the final day for counties to clear pending bills amounting to Sh51 billion from the last financial year.

The National Treasury last Tuesday allowed the devolved units to clear the bills from the 2018-19 financial year by today.

In a statement, Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya urged the 47 county executives for finance to act swiftly so they can begin the new financial year on a clean slate.

“Following the disbursement of funds to counties by the national government, I have agreed with National Treasury CS Henry Rotich to allow counties to transact until Friday July 12, 2019, to pay all pending bills,” Mr Oparanya added.

However, according to a special audit by Auditor-General Edward Ouko, only bills amounting to Sh51.2 billion were eligible, while others amounting to Sh37.7 billion were ineligible.

Initially, Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo had put the figure at Sh108 billion by the close of the 2017/18 financial year.

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She accused governors of engaging in tender-awarding sprees even in situations where there was no guarantee of budgetary allocations, leading to accumulation of debts.

That special audit report has saved taxpayers from the payment of Sh57 billion in pending bills that are either irregular or fraudulent.

Doing business with county governments has become risky for contractors, suppliers and entrepreneurs because of delayed payments.

This has resulted in bankruptcy suits and social conflicts, Mr Ouko’s reports on county governments states.

The reports expose massive graft and a careless planning and spending culture that disregards procurement guidelines.

The county with the highest eligible pending bills is Nairobi (Sh10.8 billion), followed by Mombasa (Sh3.3 billion), Garissa (Sh1.92 billion), Wajir (Sh1.7 billion), Turkana (Sh1.71 billion), Kisumu (Sh1.7 billion), Narok (Sh1.55 billion), Meru (Sh1.53 billion), Kiambu (Sh1.16 billion) and Isiolo (Sh1.06 billion).