Chamber welcomes release of Sh10.4 billion to offset pending bills

Richard Ngatia Chairman The Kenya National Chamber Of Commerce & Industry.[Wilberforce Okwiri/Standard]

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) President Richard Ngatia has said the release of Sh10.4 billion by the National Treasury to pay pending bills will help stalled businesses.

Mr Ngatia welcomed the move by the Government, saying that paying creditors would save small and medium enterprises, which were the hardest hit by the withholding of pending bills.

He said many businesses had been closed while in some cases workers had been laid off, adding that he was optimistic the trend would be reversed.

Ngatia asked county governments to emulate the national government and clear all pending debts owed to suppliers and contractors.

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“The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry would like to welcome the gesture by the National Government to support the business community through the release of Sh10.4 billion by the National Treasury owed to suppliers and contractors as pending bills. As a chamber, we commend President Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential order last month to State ministries, departments and agencies to settle all pending bills without audit queries by end of the last financial year, which ended on June 30,” Ngatia said.

He added that the “turnaround effect of the monies released will unlock stalled businesses and increase overall spending and business activity in our economy”.

“In our policy brief last year dubbed ‘Enhancing Commitment to Contractual Obligations by Government in Payment of Suppliers’ we noted that SMEs, which constitute majority of our membership, were facing the challenge of bulging pending bills which affected their liquidity, operations and job security of workers. We remain committed to support all efforts aimed at improving the business environment to build a formidable self-reliant economy.”

The KNCCI has been calling for the national and county governments to settle all authenticated bills, saying pending payments had stifled businesses and made it difficult for traders to access credit.

On Wednesday, while addressing the media on behalf of the National Development Implementation Technical Committee at Harambee House, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said the money owed by the national government had been released in full.

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“By the close of the financial year, because some of these bills are historical, there has to be a process to ensure that they are payable. We started with Sh95 billion. By the time we were closing, Sh43 billion was payable and paid. For the national government, it was Sh10.4 billion and we are happy to say that 100 per cent has been disbursed.”

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KNCCIGovernmentRichard Ngatia