Ketraco boss taken to task by House team over pending bills
Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) is at risk of missing out on Supplementary Budget allocation over disputed operations, Energy Committee has warned.
The agency mandated to plan, design, construct, operate and maintain the nation’s high voltage electricity transmission grid was yesterday put to task over the issuance of tenders and alleged irregular payment of compensation fees among its major projects.
Acting Ketraco Managing director, Anthony Wamukota, was pressed by members of the National Assembly Energy Committeeto to explain why the agency had failed to pay some of its bills in time leading to fines and penalties that have substantially increased its obligations.
“Some of these plots of lands that you were compensating don’t match, there are some people without names in the wayleave list but they have been listed as pending bills, some names appear up to 15 times, how do we substantiate this,” Embakasi South Member of parliament Julius Mawathe posed.
While defending himself the CEO said in the supplementary budget they were only looking to clear bills for work done and were not in any way going to pay those on the wayleave list.
Prior to appearing before the Gladwel Cheruiyot-chaired committee, the Auditor General’s special audit on Ketraco projects had raised red flag on major anomalies in procurement of the companies that undertook its power projects.
The committee also wanted to know why among all the firms contracted by Ketraco three of them had accumulated a total of Sh15 billion in pending bills from the total of Sh16.06 billion reported by Controller of Budget on July 31, 2021.
While casting doubt on submissions by the Ketraco boss, Joseph Maanji, Kajiado North MP and a member of the Energy Committee said the answers were unsatisfactory to warrant the Treasury to set an allocation for the pending bills by the agency. This comes even as the State agency continues to grapple with billions in unpaid bills for work rendered some dating back to 2016.
The electricity distributor, however, failed to explain why the bills were not settled within the stipulated time, leading to the piling of interest in most of the projects.
Among the bills that are still pending are Sh2.16 billion for 2018/18 fiscal year and Sh200 million for the 2018/2019 season.
In the 2019/20 financial year Sh263 million was carried forward as pending bills. Only in the 2020-2021 that Ketraco failed to carry forward any bills.
The agency explained that the delay in payment of some of the bills has attracted an increase in interest rate totalling to Sh1.8 billion just in the Nairobi-Mombasa line. It revealed that compensation to landowners for wayleaves since the inception of the project amounts to Sh2.37 billion which was certified as payable.
Wamukota said project management has so far paid Sh2.32 billion leaving an unpaid balance of Sh66.2 million.
Cheruiyot raised concerns with the pending bills that accrued after the enactment of the 2019 public finance management law. The law empowers Treasury Cabinet Secretary to temporarily withhold cash transfers to counties and State agencies that persistently breach financial commitments. “
Accrued interest and pending bills that came after formulation of the 2019 pending bills law should be paid by the then CEO Fernandes Braza,” Cheriuiyot said. Barasa, who resigned on January 31 to run for the Kakamega county seat in the forthcoming General Election, hours before he was due to be grilled by the committee.
Ketraco made payments totalling Sh10.80 billion during the last financial year. In the supplementary budget set to be tabled before the National Nssembly Thursday Ketraco has been awarded Sh0.8 billion allocations towards clearing some of the pending bills