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Counties told to pay out billions in pending bills

By Daniel Psirmoi | November 26th 2018
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka conferring with Kepsa chairperson Nicholas Nesbitt at the ongoing Speaker's Roundtable meeting in Ukunda, Kwale County on 23/11/2018. He called on Governors to expedite the release of funds they owe suppliers. [Daniel Psirmoi, Standard]

County bosses have been asked to expedite the release of billions of shillings owed to suppliers.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said this would help attract more investors to set up businesses in devolved units and help spur counties’ development.

Pending bills have soured relations between suppliers and county governments. As at the end of August, the unpaid bills held by county governments had hit the Sh100 billion mark.

“The pending bills frustrate, stifle and discourage private sector activities and investment in counties. Governors should find a way of ensuring the release of payments is expedited,” said Mr Lusaka.

“When people do business, they expect to be paid promptly. We should all be worried when people who have supplied products and services wait to be paid for over two years.”

Lusaka was speaking during the two–day Speakers Roundtable meeting with members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa). Apart from the debts owed to suppliers and contractors, double taxation was listed as another issue that affected small traders.

“The Senate is ready to address issues that will promote the ease of doing business through new legislation, repealing repugnant laws or amending existing ones,” said Lusaka at the meeting in Ukunda. It ended on Saturday.

Kepsa Chief Executive Carole Kariuki urged counties to eliminate the barriers to doing business.

She also appealed to counties to enhance engagements with the private sector, pointing out that Kepsa played a key role in development. “Public-private partnerships are key to sustainable development. Counties and regional economic blocs provide opportunities for investment,” said Ms Kariuki.

The chief executive added that Kepsa was seeking to leverage on the partnership with the Senate to engage individual counties to unlock their opportunities.

Kepsa Chairman Nick Nesbitt said the engagement with the Senate would boost business in devolved units and the country. “At Kepsa, we believe the impact of our engagement with the Senate is reflected in Kenya’s year-on-year improvement in the overall business environment,” said Mr Nesbitt.

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