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No Christmas for county workers as salaries delayed over system outage

Sources indicated the Government's payment system known as Integrated Financial management Information System (Ifmis) has collapsed.PHOTO:STANDARD

Thousands of employees of county governments will have a bleak Christmas as December salaries will be delayed over a hitch on automated financial integrated platform.

This means stone-broke workers will also struggle to pay fees when schools open in January.

Sources indicated the Government's payment system known as Integrated Financial management Information System (Ifmis) has collapsed.

However, the National Treasury has denied Ifmis failure, saying the ongoing upgrades may have slowed the system.

But a statement by Council of Governors (CoG) Chairman Peter Munya yesterday said Ifmis has not been functioning for the last three days.

Munya said the situation had left governors across the country helpless.

"We wish to notify the Press, members of the public and stakeholders that Ifmis, which has been marred with various challenges including mishandling of passwords and misappropriation of public funds, is currently experiencing technical hitches. The system has not been functioning for the last two days," said Munya, who is also the Meru governor.

Consequently, he said salaries for the county staff across the country cannot be processed.

"Furthermore, payments to the vendors and suppliers of various services to the counties also can't be done as required, taking in mind that we are headed to the festive season," Munya said.

However, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said technicians were currently working to upgrade the Ifmis system by linking it with the Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Revenue Authority.

"It is absolutely not true that the system is not working," he said adding that "we are having an upgrade which might have slowed the processes but transactions are going on, only a little slower than usual."

Munya read malice in the whole issue.

"What we do not understand is whether the system breakdown is by design or by default. Something sinister could be going on, then county leaders would be blamed for any inconsistencies that would arise," he said.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero expressed concern and urged the national government to urgently resolve the matter so that employees can get their salaries.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who chairs CoG's Finance Committee, blamed the Government, noting that it might be setting governors against the electorate.

"We have in the past complained about Ifmis... But to fail for days is now serious. Our people are likely to think that we are not paying them to prepare for next year's General Election," Oparanya said.

He revealed that the system has actually not been working for weeks in some counties.

"In Kakamega, it has been down for two weeks. Usually the window that we use to make payments doesn't open. We can't pay workers and suppliers. This is sabotage and let the Treasury explain to Kenyans why it is doing this," Oparanya said.

Kitui Governor Julius Malombe noted that the situation had put his administration in an awkward position.

"This is the time we are planning for Christmas and New Year. Employees and suppliers want their money to plan. This failure has caused demonstrations by suppliers in many counties. Let the Government act urgently to resolve the matter," Dr Malombe said.

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti concurred with Oparanya, pointing out that the situation will have far-reaching consequences.

"Parents need to buy their children Christmas presents and pay Form One fees. Denying them their salaries will embarrass them," Awiti said.

Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba noted that failure to pay salaries will affect agriculture.

"It is now that farmers want to prepare land for planting, buy seeds and fertiliser. This will cripple all our operations," Khaemba said.