What you need to know:
- Nairobi county leads with Sh54.3 billion, accounts for 56.6 per cent of the pending bills that date back several years.
- The Mandera county government did not have outstanding bills at the time the report was being drafted.
Pending bills remain a headache for county governments, eroding resources for development and increasing the number of stalled projects.
According to the latest report by Controller of Budget, Margaret Nyakang’o, devolved governments owe suppliers and contractors up to Sh96 billion, despite pressure by the National Treasury, to clear the bills.
As of June 2021, the 47 county governments reported accumulated pending bills of Sh96 billion, the report says.
Nairobi county leads with Sh54.3 billion, accounts for 56.6 per cent of the pending bills that date back several years.
The amounts include payment to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), goods delivered and projects completed as well as legal fees, electricity and water bills.
Other counties that have huge pending bills are Mombasa (Sh4.47 billion), Kiambu (Sh3.5 billion), Kwale (Sh2.29 billion), Kilifi (Sh1.9 billion), Murang’a (Sh1.8 billion), Embu (Sh1.8 billion), Migori (Sh1.8 billion), Turkana (Sh1. 7 billion) and Wajir with Sh1.4 billion.
The Mandera county government did not have outstanding bills at the time the report was being drafted.
The Controller of Budget attributes the high bills on over-commitment of spending by county authorities, failure to follow approved work plans, under-performance of own-source revenue, weak internal control mechanisms, among other reasons.
Ms Nyakang’o’s team recommends that pending bills be budgeted as a first charge in the 2021/22 financial year in line with the law.
“It is prudent that county governments prioritise pending bills before embarking on other expenditure,” the new report advises.
It identifies hurdles to effective budget execution.
The challenges include high expenditure on personnel emoluments which translated to 44.2 per cent of total expenditure, under- performance of own-source revenue, which was 64.2 per cent of the annual target, low expenditure on development, which translated to an absorption rate of 62.1 per cent, delay in submission of financial and non-financial reports, weak budgetary control and use of revenue and high expenditure on local travel.