'If funds are withheld, services will grind to a halt. There will be strikes, no medicine in our hospitals and people will suffer. It will be a lose-lose situation'
Governors have sought the intervention of the Senate following the decision of the Treasury not to release funds to counties with pending bills.
The Treasury on Monday said it will not release funds to 15 counties that have not cleared their pending bills.
Governors on Wednesday said operations in the counties would grind to a halt if Treasury does not rescind its decision.
Nairobi, Machakos, Narok, Vihiga, Isiolo, Tana River, Migori, Tharaka Nithi, Bomet, Kirinyaga, Nandi, Mombasa, Kiambu and Garissa are among those that will be starved of funding.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua told the Senate's Finance Committee that the affected counties were committed to clearing the bills in the shortest time possible.
“If funds are withheld, services will grind to a halt. There will be strikes, no medicine in our hospitals and people will suffer. It will be a lose-lose situation,” Mutua said.
He said the counties were not solely responsible for the situation, citing late remittance of funds by the National Treasury as a cause for the mess.
Nine governors appeared before the committee chaired by Madera Senator Mohamed Mohamud.
The appeal by the county chiefs came barely a day after the Controller of Budget asked MPs to amend the law to compel governors to clear pending bills within a specified period after supply of goods and services.
Deputy Controller of Budget Stephen Masha said pending bills largely arise due to overestimation of counties sources of revenue.
Counties owed their suppliers Sh64.2 billion as of October 28 but the figure has significantly gone down as the devolved units rushed to beat the December 1 deadline Treasury CS Ukur Yatani had issued.
On Tuesday, Narok Governor Samuel Tunai pleaded with the Senate to intervene saying they need more time to clear the bills. “We need your intervention and we will clear the bill in the shortest time,” Tunai said.
Kirinyanga's Anne Waiguru asked the senate to investigate some pending bills, saying they were suspicious. “When some of us took over, the bills suddenly shot up and when we complained they were reduced without any explanation. We had pending bills amounting to Sh1.5 billion but when we raised questions, it was reduced to Sh700 million without a basis,” Waiguru said.
Mohamud told the governors to take the issue of pending bills seriously, saying itb was making Kenyans to suffer unnecessarily.
“So many Kenyans are suffering because of pending bills. Don’t just say you will pay when you have no intention of doing it,” Mohamud said.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko said the national government also has pending bills that it should also clear. “When it is counties, then measures are taken against us but who is talking about pending bills of the national government. Money is money,” Sonko said.
edited by peter obuya