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Clear debts before polls, counties told

Thursday, May 26th, 2022 00:13 | By
Senate during a past session. PHOTO/File

Senators have asked the National Treasury to release funds due to county governments to enable them clear pending bills.

The senators also want governors to disburse funds to county assemblies on time and clear all debts that are overdue.

This comes in the wake of concerns that the tenures of many governors are coming to an end before their administrations pay pending bills, some of which run into billions of shillings.

While some governors are serving their second and  final term, others may lose their positions in the August 9 election.

“The fear is when a new administration takes over, the first thing they do is to set up a task force to verify the pending bills of the previous government which takes time,” Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang said.

He was speaking during a debate and passage of the County Allocation of Revenue Act (CARA) 2022.

The Act devised among the counties the equitable share of the national revenue that is allocated to county governments as reflected by the annual Division of Revenue Act for the Financial Year 2022/2023.

“If a contractor is considered to have been close to the outgoing governor, chances are that they will not be paid. We have seen this and we now have experience. We have seen it from the first transition. Let this House not allow that situation to apply in the second transition for county governments,” added Kajwang’.

Financial year

Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri said pending bills, which are major problem for both national and county governments, should be cleared before administrations change.

“It is not fair to pass over pending bills to an incoming government. If it were possible, they should be settled this financial year which ends on 30th June. That is less than two months from now,” Ongeri said.

He reckoned that when a new financial year starts, those who will be in office will start on a new slate, whether at the national or county level.

“The only thing that this Senate can do is to push the National Treasury to ensure that pending bills are settled one way or another,” he said.

Ongeri asked governors and their executives  to use  resources left this financial year to settle debts and  implement planned projects.

Delayed allocations

Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni reminded county governments that devolved funds were meant to take services closer to the people and change the lives of residents for the better.

Nominated Senator Naomi Waqo said counties had not been receiving budgetary allocations on time, thus worsening the situation on the ground.

“I believe county governors are hearing us. Although I know they are busy campaigning and waiting for this money so that they can use it to threaten their opponents, devolved funds should go to the right places and be used well,” Senator Waqo said.

In March, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) Director of Public Policy and Research, Hillary Onami said the institute was concerned that pending bills had caused cash flow, auction and closure of many SMEs.

“We are dedicated to enhancing our contribution and that of our members to the national economic growth and development agenda through this piece of legislation,” said Onami during discussions on the amendments to the Prompt Payment Bill 2021.

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