Governors confronted by huge pending bills
Newly sworn-in governors face a huge task of clearing pending bills and weeding out ghost workers as they begin serving their five-year term.
The county bosses also face an uphill task of transforming their counties by fulfilling their campaign pledges as well as meeting the expectations of their constituents.
A report by the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o shows that between June 2020 and March 2022, counties only settled Sh15.9 billion pending bills, out of Sh155.5 billion, leaving Sh139.5 billion unsettled while audit reports for the 2017-18 financial year revealed that the hiring of workers in some 12 counties favoured dominant communities.
Ethnic imbalance in the county government’s recruitment has become a major concern since the inception of devolution in 2013. The new governors also take office at a time when some counties are experiencing ravaging and prolonged drought that has seen water sources dry up and pastures depleted.
Some of the affected counties include Tana River, Taita Taveta, Samburu, Isiolo, Laikipia, Marsabit, Garissa, Mandera, Kilifi, and Narok. Others include Kiambu, Murang’a, Embu, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, Kisii, Migori, and Nairobi.
Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi reckons that the county, like many others in the region, has undergone a challenging period due to the prolonged drought with most residents in dire need of food as the prices of basic commodities shot up and those of livestock dropping drastically. “It demands our focused attention and energy to aid in its recovery and help get it back on track. I believe, that if we join hands, these challenges shall be behind us in the shortest time possible,” Abdullahi said in an interview with People Daily.
Abdullahi, who was Wajir’s governor between 2013 and 2017, recaptured the seat on August 9 pledged to settle pending bills to uplift businesses affected by delayed payments.
“Immediately, my administration shall begin by paying all small businesses affected by the pending bills gridlock to create a thriving business environment and allow re-investment into our county,” Abdullahi, alias Jiir, held.
In neighbouring Marsabit county, Governor Mohamud Ali has assured residents that the challenge of flagrant ethnic bias and skewed county staff hiring would be a thing of the past.
In Nakuru county, governor Susan Kihika will have to address the housing challenge as the county and city’s population grows. The demand is expected to shoot up in the coming years as people migrate to the city to work in the various companies that have set a base in the past months.
Irungu Kang’ata will have to contend with the Sh2 billion pending bill left by the outgoing administration which is owed to contractors.
Terming the pending bills as hefty debt, Kangata said he would only pay the contractors who will have been proven to have done the work as required.
Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza claims, she has inherited a ballooned debt of Sh1.2 billion from the Kiraitu Murungi-led administration and urged locals to be patient. “I will immediately take audit in the next one month to investigate the huge debt and if corruption will be cited then I will go direct to the corrupt individual, it does not matter who it will be,” said Kawira.