Over 30 counties fail to spend cash on pending bills despite allocation

BUSINESS |

Controller of Budget Dr Margaret Nyakang'o when she appeared before the National Assembly Finance Committee on the Budget Policy Statement at Continental House. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Controller of Budget (CoB) has revealed that 30 counties did not spend even a shilling to settle pending bills in the first three months of the financial year (FY) 2021/2022.

Listed in the recent report by Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o are the counties of Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Homa Bay, Isiolo, Kajiado and Kilifi, Kisumu, Kwale, Lamu, Machakos, Marsabit, Meru, Migori, Nairobi City and Nakuru.

Others are Nandi, Narok, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Samburu, Tana River, Tharaka Nithi, Trans Nzoia, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Vihiga, Wajir, and West Pokot.

Nairobi topped the list with Sh54.32 billion in pending bills while Nakuru had the lowest amount - Sh17 million. Nairobi County, the audit revealed, did not submit a payment plan for its pending bills. The county had faced turbulence after the ouster of Governor Mike Sonko, who has since been replaced with Anne Kananu.

Baringo County as per the report had outstanding pending bills of Sh195.27 million as of June 30, 2021. The Sh195.27 million comprised of Sh19.93 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh175.34 million for development expenditure. “Nonetheless, the county had not prepared and submitted a payment plan to settle the entire bills by the close of the first quarter of FY 2021/22,” read the report in part.

Bungoma County has outstanding pending bills of Sh443.77. Though the audit showed the devolved unit had prepared a payment plan to settle the entire bills in the financial year, the County Treasury did not report any expenditure towards paying pending bills in the first quarter of the financial year 2021/21.

Busia County pending bills stood at Sh740.65 million for development expenditure only.

Elgeyo Marakwet’s pending bills of Sh52.87 million comprised of Sh5.74 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh47.13 million for development expenditure.

The audit revealed that the county had at the beginning of the financial year 2021/22 prepared a payment plan to settle the entire bills. However, during the period under review, there was no payment towards pending bills.

Homa Bay County’s pending bills amounted to Sh575.57 million and comprised of Sh16.97 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh558.60 million for development expenditure.

Isiolo and Kajiado counties had pending bills of Sh1.26 billion each. Kilifi’s pending bills amounted to Sh1.99 billion and comprised of Sh1.19 billion for recurrent expenditure and Sh795.37 million for development expenditure.

Kisumu’s pending bills were Sh2.09 billion and comprised of Sh556.63 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh1.54 billion for development expenditure. Kwale’s pending bill dues amounted to Sh2.29 billion for development expenditure.

Lamu on the other hand had pending bills of Sh111.77 million, which comprised of Sh67.67 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh44.10 million for development expenditure.

Development expenditure

Machakos County’s pending bills amounted to Sh2.80 billion for both recurrent and development expenditure while Marsabit reported Sh1.29 billion in pending bills.

Meru’s pending bills amounted to Sh1.01 billion and comprised of Sh215.85 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh790.61 million for development expenditure.

For Migori County, the pending bills amounted to Sh905.87 million and comprised of Sh540.77 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh365.09 million for development expenditure.

Nandi County had pending bills amounting to Sh772.34 million and comprised of Sh254.57 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh517.59 million for development expenditure, while Narok’s pending bills hit Sh2.17 billion and comprised of Sh1.70 billion for recurrent expenditure and Sh476.03 million for development expenditure.

Nyamira County reported Sh334.97 million in pending bills comprising of Sh119.44 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh215.54 million for development expenditure. For Nyandarua County, its outstanding pending bills during the period stood at Sh746.89 million, and comprised of Sh179.44 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh567.44 million for development expenditure.

Samburu’s pending bill amounted to Sh609.75 million and comprised of Sh92.43 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh517.33 million for development expenditure. Tana River had Sh2.67 billion in unpaid bills and comprised of Sh1.05 billion for recurrent expenditure and Sh1.35 billion for development expenditure.

Tharaka Nithi’s pending bills amounted to Sh327.38 million and comprised of Sh117.79 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh209.58 million for development expenditure.

Trans Nzoia reported pending bills of Sh1.89 billion - comprising of Sh512.19 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh1.38 billion for development expenditure.

Turkana on the other hand had Sh1.79 billion in pending bills comprising of Sh626.91 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh1.17 billion for development expenditure. The county did not provide a payment plan for the pending bills in the period under review.

Uasin Gishu County’s pending bills stood at Sh116.3 million and comprised of Sh25.66 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh90.64 million for development expenditure. Vihiga reported Sh589.91 million in pending bills - Sh83.26 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh506.64 million for development expenditure.

Wajir had pending bills of Sh1.42 billion and comprised of Sh302 million for recurrent expenditure and Sh1.12 billion for development expenditure. At the beginning of FY 2021/22, the county had not prepared a payment plan to settle the bills in the financial year according to the report.

West Pokot’s pending bills stood at Sh162.56 million. The Controller of Budget said failure by the counties to make payments when due, constitutes a severe material breach of public finance principles.

She warned the 30 devolved units to develop and implement a pending bills payment plan and ensure the entire stock of bills are cleared in the current financial year in line with the law. “The Controller of Budget encourages the relevant oversight institutions and officers of County governments to ensure the recommendations contained in this report are implemented,” reads the audit report.

In total, counties reported an expenditure of Sh52.84 billion in the first quarter of the financial year 2021/2022. Recurrent expenditure was Sh49.28 billion, and development expenditure amounted to Sh3.55 billion.

The CoB said counties did not prioritise the implementation of development projects during the period.

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