MPs demand action on accounting officers over pending bills
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly wants the House to reprimand accounting officers who either fail to settle bills in time, despite availability of funds, or those who pay bills selectively.
In a report tabled in the House on Tuesday, members of the committee also propose an amendment to Section 38(1) (b) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 to include a list of all pending bills by vote and the justification for the delay in its settlement, thereby forming a first charge in the budget for subsequent financial year.
The committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi (pictured) says the delay in settling bills exposes the government as a risky buyer and deepens the difficult financial situation of the suppliers of goods, and services to public entities, particularly small enterprises.
Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) failed to settle pending bills worth Sh127.4 billion during the 2018/2019 financial year and were instead carried forward to the financial year 2019/2020.
Pending bills balance comprises Sh80.5 billion and Sh46.9 billion under MDAs and Donor Funded Projects respectively.
MDAs that failed to settle pending bills during the year included the Ministry of Health (Sh41.9 billion), State Department of Devolution (Sh6.74 billion), State Department for Correctional Services (Sh6.28 billion), State Department for Interior (Sh4.37 billion), Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Sh4.3 billion) and State Department for Crop Development (Sh4.1 billion).
Others are the State Department for Regional and Northern Corridor Development (Sh2.45 billion), State Department for Youth (Sh1.9 billion), the Parliamentary Service Commission (Sh1.1 billion) and the Judiciary (Sh858 million).
“The Committee notes with a lot of concern that the runaway pending bills continue to put pressure on the fiscal space with some of these bills attracting penalties thereby putting more strain on the available scarce government resources,” adds the report.
At the same time, the MPs want the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury to be reprimanded for failure to enforce the fiscal responsibility principles in Section 15 (2) that requires the development budget constitutes a minimum of 30 per cent.
The Committee also expressed concern that lack sanctions by the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury had led to perennial failure by some accounting officers to account adequately for the management and use of public resources.