BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Kisumu pays Sh332 million pending bills

The county still owes Sh306 million based on the figures approved by the auditor general's office for the period ending June 30, 2018.

In Summary

• The sum went to the suppliers, service providers and contractors hired in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years.

• Communications officer says the county is committed to settling at least 50 per cent of the balance by the end of this financial year.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o
Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o
Image: Faith Matete

The Kisumu government has paid Sh331.7 million in the past four days to clear part of the pending bills.

County communications boss Atieno Otieno said the sum went to the suppliers, service providers and contractors hired in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years.

However, the county still owes Sh306 million based on the figures approved by the auditor general's office for the period ending June 30, 2018, Otieno said. 

She said the county is committed to settling at least 50 per cent of the balance (Sh153 million) by June 30.

“As we progressively meet obligations for the 2018-19 financial year, especially in recurrent pending bills, we are also undertaking an audit of the development projects for the same year,” Otieno said.

Pending bills have been a source of confrontation between the county government and contractors in the last few months. The contractors accused the executive of ignoring their pleas, yet they had kept their side of the bargain by completing projects. 

In June 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the counties to clear all pending bills. Most counties failed to comply. Thereafter, the issue resulted in a tussle, pitting the National Treasury against governors, some of whom accused the Exchequer of withholding funds over the debt.  

In February, the Kisumu county assembly adopted a report on the 2019-20 supplementary budget, allowing the executive to pay pending bills amounting to Sh1.4 billion.

The MCAs unanimously approved the report, giving Governor Anyang' Nyong'o's administration the go-ahead to spend additional Sh500 million to settle pending bills that accumulated between 2013 and 2014.

It also permitted the executive to spend Sh970 million from the recurrent expenditure to clear pending bills.

The assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman, Steve Owiti, who presented the report, said the supplementary budget was brought about by different factors, among them a directive from the National Treasury to settle all the eligible pending bills up to June 2018 by June 2020.

Owiti told the assembly that his committee had recommended that a list of pending bills be provided for verification by members to ensure prudent use of public funds. 

This request came after the MCAs demanded they be furnished with a comprehensive list of all pending bills to be settled before any payment could be made.

(Edited by F'Orieny)