Nairobi county owes government Sh215 billion

Nairobi County Governor Johnson Sakaja. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has told the Senate County Public Accounts Committee that the county owes the national government Sh215 billion in debts accumulated over the years.

Sakaja who appeared before the Committee Chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang said the national government owes the county Sh68 billion in debts.

The governor assured that the county government has automated revenue streams under Nairobi Pay.

He noted that the county has been recording decline in revenue collected in the last six years and he decided to stop staff from handling cash to avoid further losses.

The committee said the county has the capability of generating up to Sh19 billion from own source revenue per year and it was important to seal loopholes through which revenue was lost.

“We are carrying out forensic audit since counties were established in 2013 to date, we have also actualized the Nairobi Revenue Authority so as to ensure that we manage the declining revenue rates, that is why have automated all revenue streams to ensure that we minimize cash losses,” said Sakaja.

State House Comptroller Katoo ole Metito who also appeared before the committee assured that the Office of the President will pay the Sh15 billion pending bills that were incurred during the tenure of the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) which managed critical county departments.

“The State House Comptroller was the accounting officer for the Nairobi Metropolitan Service, that is why the Office of the President will be paying the verified Sh15 billion pending bills for the time it was in charge of running the city, that is our responsibility and not Nairobi county government,” said Metito.

The State House Comptroller said that they are in the process of concluding the handing over report after the delay was occasioned by the fact that most officers serving at the NMS were from different government departments.

Senator Kajwang said that according to the Auditor General report the county government could not account for Sh4 billion in own generated revenue in the Financial Year 2017/2018 with Sh14 billion having been collected but only Sh10 billion documented which raised questions on the huge variance.

The Auditor General Report showed the county own source revenue in the Financial Year 2016/2017 was Sh15 billion, in Financial Year 2017/2018 Sh19 billion was collected while in the Financial Year 2018/2019 the county collected Sh13 billion, raising concern over the declining figures.

“Kenyans struggle to pay taxes that is why we want Nairobi county which has a bigger Gross Domestic Product than Burundi to put measures in place to ensure that the billions of shillings in own source revenue that cannot be accounted for several years now is a thing of the past,” said Kajwang.

Sakaja informed the committee that he has set up a taskforce on pending legal bills led by Advocate Kamotho Waiganjo.

The governor said that the county has managed to verify the Sh1.7 billion power bills which was reduced to Sh900 million after an audit showed that some of the metre bills did not belong to the city.

Sakaja told the committee that the debt owed by the county to the national government and what the national government owed the county caused friction when he was senator since he believed that there was a better way they could be handled so as to prevent it from ballooning.

“I decided to shift from the position of being senator to governor so that I could clean up the mess in the city which has got a potential of claiming its rightful place as one of the greatest cities in the world. I intends to ensure that it happens during my tenure,” he said.