- Early this year, Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok constituted a five-member committee to review and recommend projects that were eligible for payment.
- The committee concluded its mandate in September and forwarded the findings to the Assembly.
Bomet County assembly MCAs have rejected a report by the Executive that provided a roadmap to settling Sh1.4 billion pending bills that the county owes different suppliers.
In a move that may further add pain to the longsuffering suppliers who have been waiting settling of bills dating to as back as 2017, the Assembly unanimously adopted the report by the Budget and Appropriation Committee that dismissed the report as ‘erroneous and misleading’.
Early this year, Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok constituted a five-member committee to review and recommend projects that were eligible for payment.
The committee concluded its mandate in September and forwarded the findings to the Assembly.
The ward representatives observed that the formation of the pending bills committee was misguided in the first place, since, according to them, there has been no regime change since 2020 when the issue of pending bills took root in the county.
"The committee is in shock by the recommendation by the pending bill's committee to the county government to settle bills for ghost and incomplete projects. We, therefore, recommend that their report should not be used as the basis for any payments whatsoever,” Kimulot Ward MCA Eric Kirui said.
Kirui who chairs the Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee accused the executive committee of negligence saying that it recommended payment of incomplete and non-existent projects.
He pointed out that if the county executive report is to be relied on for payment, the county risked losing millions of taxpayer’s monies to several incomplete or non-existent projects that vendors were claiming millions of monies from the counties.
He cited a project in Kaplong in Chemagel ward in which a vendor has lodged a claim for payment of Sh3 million for a road that was tarmacked by the National Government.
The report seen by the Star shows damning revelations of incomplete or fictitious projects that different vendors have launched claims for payment.
In one road project at Embomos Ward in Konoin Sub County, two contractors have lodged claim payments of Sh4 million and 2 million for an incomplete road.
In another case, a vendor is claiming half a million shillings for the construction of a non-existent road in Kong’asis Ward.
The MCAs further faulted Barchok’s administration claiming that several staff within the department were recommending payments to vendors without proper documentation and without following the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) guidelines.
They also accused several suppliers, who according to them are county staff or their proxies of lodging claims for nonexistent projects or supplies.
They expressed their worries that if the Office of the Auditor General and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) do not take over the matter, the county will not realize any development for the next several years.
“The pending bills alone have surpassed the budgetary allocation for this financial year for several county departments, this means Bomet county government will not undertake any meaningful development project for a second year in a row,” said Mutai.
When he appeared before the Senate on November 21, Barchok was at pains to explain how his administration inflated the county’s pending bills by more than Sh200 million.
In the report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, the county had declared its pending bills as Sh842.39 million as of June 2021.
However, it could support outstanding bills worth only Sh637.43 million, resulting in unreconciled and unexplained variances of Sh204.95 million.
“The true position is that the pending bills are Sh637.4 million. We amended the statement to exclude the pending commitments,” Finance Chief Officer Erick Chepkwony said.
The report flagged Sh261.86 million which was not supported by documents such as invoices, certificates of completion and purchase orders.
“In many cases, such gross exaggeration of pending bills is deliberate and cannot be taken as an arithmetic error,” Kajwang’ said.
“These are things that make you look bad and people start thinking of you as a thief. Article 10 of the Constitution is very clear on the accuracy of documents,” Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah stated.