A Senate watchdog committee has called for a forensic audit into Sh100 billion county governments owe suppliers.
The Senate County Public Accounts Investment Committee yesterday expressed fear that a huge chunk of the debt owed to contractors could be fictitious claims.
Pending bills continue to be a cause of worsening relations between suppliers and county governments.
As at the end of September last year, county governments held Sh99 billion worth of pending bills.
“We are convinced part of the Sh99 billion pending bills could be a liability for taxpayers that is not valid. It would be proper to have a probe on the bills conducted by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations,” said committee chairman Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay).
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He made the remarks during a meeting with Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti, who appeared before the team over his administration's spending during the 2014-2015 financial year.
During the meeting, Dr Kuti disclosed that on assuming office last August, an analysis of the records showed that the county government had pending bills totalling Sh916 million.
The governor said he doubted the figure and directed an independent audit carried out by a task force he created to verify the financial claims.
“After the audit, an exit report showed that out of the Sh916 million pending bills, only Sh96 million owed to suppliers was genuine. The rest of the claims were doubtful since some had missing documents while the rest were outright fake,” said Kuti.
Reacting to the revelation, Mr Kajwang said the DCI could help to unravel the authenticity of the billions claimed by contractors from the counties, adding that pending bills could be the next biggest financial scam.
“I am afraid that all our focus may be on the scandals unfolding in national government institutions while billions of shillings could be at risk of getting lost in the devolved units. We need to audit all the claims,” Kajwang said.
During yesterday's session, the senators took the governor to task over various audit questions on spending raised by Auditor General Edward Ouko during the 2014-2015 financial year.
Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Millicent Omanga (nominated) and Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga) were present at the meeting.In his report, Mr Ouko sought to know why revenue collected by the county administration during the period under review was way below target.
According to the report, the county collected Sh132 million against a target of Sh360 million, a drop of 36.7 per cent.
“Insecurity experienced in the region from 2013 affected the revenue collected. Our major stream of revenue is the national park and tourists stopped coming after one of them was killed by suspected militants,” said the governor.