Suppliers could sue State in Sh134b pending bills row

Biscuit factory workers at the Conveyor Belt, stacking the freshly baked cookies for packaging [File, Standard]

Suppliers to the public sector are contemplating a class action suit over pending bills amounting to Sh134 billion.

Under the aegis of the Association of Public Sector General Suppliers (APSGS), they said even after writing to the relevant accounting government officers, a majority of their members are yet to get paid.

Their predicament is further compounded by the upcoming August 9 General Election, which could see a change of guard in most public offices.

APSGS Secretary General Simon Gichuki said the class action suit would pave way for a tribunal to look into the issue of pending bills that has plunged many small businesses into cash flow crises.

The association also seeks legal interpretation on who should be held liable when payment for goods supplied or services rendered is not made.

“The reason why we are doing a class suit action is to set a precedence so that the next government straightens up systems. Do not commit to something you do not have the money for,” said Mr Gichuki (pictured). 

He called for a presidential sanctioned commission of inquiry on all pending bills and a determination on how they will be paid.

Mr Gichuki said collectively, the lobby's 4,130 members are owed Sh134 billion for goods and services supplied to public entities, including county governments and parastatals.

While some ministries are prompt with payment like the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, some balk when payments come due. 

“The bills are not paid by the government; there are individuals designated to work within the government,” he said.

Mr Gichuki called for individual responsibility, saying blaming the President or governors for the current mess is not helpful. 

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