Force counties to pay bills, budget boss tells Senate
AgreementA resolution of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (Ibec) chaired by Deputy President William Ruto and whose members include all Governors, had agreed on having the bills paid by beginning of this month. Ibec resolved that county governments would pay eligible pending bills on a priority basis as a first charge on the county revenue fund by end of financial year 2019/20. Affected counties include Machakos (Sh1.1 billion), Nairobi (Sh21 billion), Vihiga (Sh1.8 billion), Isiolo (Sh1.09 billion), Tana River (Sh1.09 billion), Migori (Sh970 million), Tharaka Nithi (Sh921 million), Bomet (Sh893 million), Kirinyaga (Sh1.05 billion), Nandi (Sh1.12 billion), Mombasa (Sh4.07 billion), Kiambu (Sh1.56 billion), Garissa (Sh1.57 billion) and Baringo (Sh35 million). Masha said counties that have been blocked from receiving monies should be allowed to develop a plan on how they intend to clear their bills. “Some counties cannot clear their pending bills in one financial year. A good example if Vihiga county, which needs up to two years to pay its creditors,” he said. He said his office in collaboration with the National Treasury would then make follow ups to ensure creditors are paid.
History of disregarding the lawSenators wondered if counties would adhere to the new laws if the current legislation is amended. “Counties have a history of disregarding the law. We might amend the law, but they may still not adhere to the requirements,” said Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka. Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula wondered if the office of Controller of Budget ever bothers to check whether the pending bills are for actual goods and services offered. Masha said that pending bills largely arise due to overestimation of own source revenue. “When you over estimate own source revenue, there will be a deficit in the budget. As CoB, we want counties to be giving us their budget estimates early enough so that we can advise accordingly,” he said.
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