What you need to know:
- The audit committee found that many projects on paper did not exist on the ground.
- The Governor and the Senator, Richard Onyonka, have been at loggerheads over pending bills payment.
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o has told the county leadership to resolve the pending bills issue before requesting for new funding.
A letter dated November 21 and addressed to Finance Executive Kennedy Abincha, Dr Nyakang’o directed the county government to address the pending bills classified as “ineligible” within three weeks, providing specific reasons why they have been put in that category.
“Please refer to your letter ... dated November 6, 2023 in which you submitted the pending bills payment plan for the bills classified as eligible of Sh119,478,294. We have, however, noted that the status of the bills classified as ineligible were not addressed in the letter. Further, we note that while the list of the bills classified as ineligible as of 30 September 2023 was submitted, the reasons for their ineligibility were not provided,” Dr Nyakang’o said.
She aded: “In view of the above, please provide the following information to this office: the final approved report by the gazetted pending bills verification committee. This report should be signed off and verified by all committee members.”
The CoB also told the county leadership to provide the mechanism used to identify the classify the bills as ineligible.
“Please provide your feedback no later than December 10, 2023, or before any further requisition of funds from the County Revenue Fund,” she concluded.
While Governor Simba Arati has stated that he is committed to paying the pending bills, he has also cautioned that he is not willing to spend public money on work that was never done.
Some of the ineligible pending bills are from as far back as 2013, raising questions on why they were not paid by the then administration.
After he assumed office, Mr Arati found about Sh2 billion worth of pending bills left by his predecessor James Ongwae. Mr Arati then formed a pending bills committee that audited them and made recommendations.
The committee noted that most of the projects claimed to have been done in the past 10 years did not exist on the ground and thus categorised bills related to them as ineligible.
Dr Nyakang’o’s letter was apparently prompted by a complaint from Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka, who wanted to know what the CoB was doing regarding a section of contractors whose pending bills the county was contesting.
Mr Onyonka and Arati have been at loggerheads since the governor refused to pay pending bills that he believes are fictitious. However, the senator contends that some of the contractors did legitimate work and they ought to be paid.