- Bungoma senator Moses Wetangula calls for proper verification of the bills to ensure governors are not given leeway to pay themselves using taxpayers’ money.
- The CS defended the government’s decision to withhold disbursement to the counties, saying the move will small scale contractors and suppliers and spur economic growth.
The government is grappling with historical pending bills amounting to Sh1.8 trillion, senators heard yesterday.
Acting Treasury CS Ukur Yatani told senators that the bulk of the bills are made up of millions in unsettled court awards running for years.
The rest of the bills, he noted, consist of legal fees and fines.
He said the government doesn't know yet how to settle the huge bills, which he admitted is a challenge to the ministry.
Yatani was appearing before the Senate Finance committee to shed the light on the directive to withhold disbursement to 15 counties which have failed to comply with the government policy on clearing pending bills.
The counties are Narok, Machakos, Nairobi, Vihiga, Isiolo, Tana River, Migori, Tharaka-Nithi, Bomet, Kirinyaga, Nandi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Garissa and Baringo. They have up to December 1 to clear the bills.
The CS defended the government’s decision to withhold the disbursement, saying the move is meant to help small-scale contractors and suppliers and to spur economic growth.
"There is no malice. We are very concerned because this is robbery. We have a good indication of a robust economy but this is not felt because we are holding people’s money in unpaid bills," Yatani said.
According to the Controller of Budget, the counties owe suppliers and contractors Sh108 billion, while Auditor General puts all unpaid bills by counties at Sh89 billion.
"Governors should not be given discretion on who to pay and who not to pay," Yatani said.
He said already, three of the 15 counties blacklisted have presented to Treasury a roadmap on how to clear the pending bills and the government is considering.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula called for proper verification of the bills to ensure governors are not given leeway to pay themselves using taxpayers’ money.
"We are aware of many governors who are proxy contractors and you must not give them a window to pay themselves using public money. We must ensure that the bills we are paying are genuine,” Wetang'ula said.
Wetang'ula also called for ring-fencing of crucial essential services such as health, even as the national government deals with the 15 "notorious" counties.