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State and counties must urgently clear Sh225b bills

By The Standard | December 19th 2019

That the national government and counties are yet to settle a massive Sh225 billion in pending bills is not good news for the country's economy.

The national government has not paid a total of Sh137 billion while counties are yet to clear Sh100 billion owed to suppliers over the years.

Yesterday, Interior and Coordination of National Government Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i expressed his displeasure with counties that have not paid suppliers.

But from the numbers, ministries and parastatals are also big culprits in not settling debts on time to enable businesses meet their financial obligations.

Some small scale businessmen and women who took loans to complete their contracts are said to have been forced out of operations while others had their properties auctioned.

There is no justifiable excuse why the money has not been paid. Each financial year, counties, ministries and State agencies prepare budgets on how they will spend their money, and payment for suppliers is usually factored in.

In the past, both the Controller of Budget and the Auditor General accused some counties and ministries of diverting money to other areas without budget votes while others misappropriated funds. This has to end.

Although President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the National Treasury to make sure that suppliers are paid, more needs to be done to ensure the amounts are cleared to help stimulate the economy.

Dr Matiang’i says the government is committed to pay all the pending bills by March 2020. We have to hold him to his word.

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