Senators pile pressure on counties to clear Sh16bn pending bills

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 13 May, 2020 13:49 | 2 mins read
Governors at a past function. PHOTO | FILE

Senators have joined the National Treasury and the Controller of Budget (COB) in piling pressure on county governments to clear pending bills amounting to Sh16.13 billion.

This even as the lawmakers blamed the National Treasury for accumulation of pending bills and stalled projects.

In its fifth progress report to the House on Tuesday, the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Covid-19 voted to hasten disbursement of funds to counties the National Treasury should comply with rules and regulations set by the oversight bodies to facilitate timely disbursements of funds.

Further, the committee urged counties with pending bills 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.

It adds: “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 the accumulation of pending bills and stalled projects.”

As of April 30, 2020 the county governments 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.

While the national government had eligible pending bills paid as at 20th April 2020, Sh34.9 billion (68.1 percent of eligible pending bills) leaving an outstanding balance of Sh16.3 billion.

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.

They counties pending bills stood at Sh16.13 billion with nine of them accounting for 83 per cent of the 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 – or Sh8.07 billion out of the Sh15.91 billion it was allocated this fiscal year as at May 4, 2020.

The county is yet to clear Sh7.15 billion eligible pending bills that have 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 Monday because of their slow pace of settling the bills.

In her submission to the committee, Nyakang’o noted that counties have cleared bills totalling Sh35.15 billion as at April 30, 2020 out of Sh51.63 billion verified by Auditor General last year.