The Senate Public Accounts Committee has called for a consultative meeting with the Controller of Budget (CoB) and Auditor-General to discuss discrepancies in pending bills accumulated by the 47 county governments.
The Auditor-General and CoB have been releasing reports with conflicting figures of the pending bills accrued by the devolved units.
In the 2017/18 county government’s Budget Implementation Review Report, the CoB Agnes Odhiambo indicated that the counties had amassed pending bills of Sh108 billion as at June 30, 2018.
But a special report of the Auditor-General on pending bills as at 30 June 2018, showed that the counties had accrued Sh88.9 billion debt.
Out of that amount, the Auditor-General Edward Ouko found out that only Sh51 billion were legitimate bills while an excess of Sh37 billion was either fake or did not meet the threshold for payment.
However, the committee that is chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ pointed out that there are critical, integrity and accounting queries raised by Mr Ouko.
According to Mr Kajwang’, some of the debts are fraudulent bills, akin to the National Youth Service scandal, where fake contractors were paid for supplying air.
“The auditor has released a report that the auditors themselves and the counties that were audited do not understand. So we want the auditor and CoB to clarify these issues for us,” Senator Kajwang said on Wednesday when the committee met with Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki over the Auditor-General’s report for the 2017/2018 financial year.
The Homa Bay Senator wants fake pending bills claimants to be prosecuted if found to have supplied air with the sole aim of defrauding the taxpayers billions of shillings.
“The bills could be another scandal that is yet to be exposed. You will find that only 10 per cent of the money is genuine, the rest has may have sneaked by current or former administration,” he added.
During the sitting, the committee heard that Tharaka Nithi County had accrued Sh417 million pending bills as at June 30, 2018.
Recently, the CoB cited inability to meet revenue targets, reckless spending and irregular hiring of staff as some of the causes of the debts accumulated over the last six years.
First-term governors have repeatedly heaped blame on their predecessors, accusing them of dishing out contracts at the tail end of their tenure, leaving the incoming county executives with swollen pending bills.
Governor Mike Sonko’s Nairobi City County leads in the notorious list of counties with questionable pending bills, which could be a conduit for grand theft of public resources.
The chief auditor has approved payment of pending bills amounting to Sh1.7 billion but rejected the settling of Sh11 billion bills which were deemed fictitious.