County bosses say settling pending bills to take longer than expected

Governor Anne Waiguru addressing the media after the council of governors meeting held on October 6, 2022. [Denis Kbuchi, Standard]

The Council of Governors has said that contractors who are owed billions by county governments will have to wait longer than it was expected to receive their money.

Governors, who are on a retreat together with their deputies in Naivasha, said counties had more urgent needs like wages and healthcare to handle first and the pending bills will have to wait.

The Council of Governors is concerned over the soaring wage bill in all the counties due to ghost workers in the previous administrations.

COG chair Anne Waiguru said pending bills had dominated their discussions considering that the Treasury had also delayed in releasing funds to the counties.

"Pending bills have adversely affected all the counties and we are addressing this though there are critical issues like wages and health budgets that have to be looked into," she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Kisii Governor Simba Arati who said that various counties had formed task forces to look into the pending bills which were questionable.

Arati added that the issue had been compounded by the rising wage bill which he attributed to people illegally employed by the previous governors.

"Though the law on pending bills is clear, we shall first address the issues of wages before looking into the debts," he said. On the issue of ghost workers, he said that nearly all the counties were affected.

Kericho Governor Dr Eric Mutai warned that the continued delay in disbursing funds had adversely affected county services and settling of any pending bills

"We have agreed with the Treasury that funds meant for the county will be released by the 15th of every month and the process will be automated to make it faster," he said.

Mutai said that he had formed a task force to look into pending bills by auditing them, adding that those that were genuine would be paid in a month's time.

Tharaka Nithi's Muthomi Njuki attributed the current impasse on the pending bills to differences between the Controller of Budget, Auditor General and the counties.

County Governments Annual Budget Review Report for the Financial Year 2021/2022 reveals counties had accumulated pending bills amounting to Sh153.02 billion, comprising Sh151.68 billion by the county Executive and Sh1.34 billion by the county assemblies.

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