Senators set to verify projects in Vihiga after pending bills queries
A Senate watchdog committee has expressed concern over the ballooning bills at the Vihiga county government that rose by a whopping Sh836 million in the 2022-23 financial year.
The Senate Finance and Budget Committee now wants to tour the county to physically verify projects in the wake of Sh1.3billion pending bills accumulated by the devolved unit.
“The right thing to do is for the committee to go to Vihiga and physically check if these projects exist,” said Committee chairman Ali Roba.
The committee is inquiring into the pending bills following a petition by Senator Godfrey Osotsi that has raised concern of the swelling debts that were adversely affecting businesses.
This is after it emerged that Governor Wilber Ottichilo-led administration gave contradicting figures of pending bills that it has incurred over the years.
Appearing before the committee to explain the bills, Governor Ottichilo stated that the county executive has outstanding pending bills worth Sh1.19 billion, a figure which differs from the initial amount of Sh1.30 billion declared by the county.
“What exactly is the amount of pending bills because we have three figures that the county government declared? They are Sh1.13 billion, Sh1.21 billion and now you are saying Sh1.19 billion? posed Roba.
Ottichilo said the bills accumulated were mainly accumulated during the Covid 19 period.
In his response, Governor Ottichilo stated that during the Covid period, his administration received Sh60 million from the national government to aid in the fight against the scourge.
“We were supposed to use the cash to fight the pandemic. Through consultation with the Ministry of Health and the Executive, we agreed to use the money to improve facilities, especially Intensive Care Unit,” he said.
In addition, Ottichillo charged that the county constructed 5-bed ICU units and the contractors were duly paid, adding that the latest figure of Sh1.19 billion was arrived at by the pending bills committee that he instituted to verify the authenticity of the bills that had been incurred by the county.
The governor maintained that his administration had cleared the bills that were declared eligible.
But Osotsi put the governor to task to explain why even after Covid 19, the county has continued to accumulate more bills.