House team questions Sh7.2 billion Lands ministry magic pending bills

Parliament is questioning pending bills worth Kes7.2 billion that have showed up at the lands ministry records without proper explanation.

Kanini Kega led Budget committee said in the report to Parliament that some of the bills date as far back as 16 years ago but have never been put in the budget over the years.

“With regard to the ministry of lands and physical planning, it was observed that there were pending bills amounting to Kes7.2 billion arising from court and arbitration awards,” the committee said.

“It was noted, however, that these pending bills were not reflected in the previous financial years despite cases dating back to 2005. This casts doubt on the authenticity of the pending bills and will necessitate thorough investigations,” MPs said.

Kenya owes private sector areas of Kes307.8 billion as at end of March 2021.

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Small businesses who have traded with the government have waited years to get paid, suffering cash flow problems and getting auctioned by banks due to the delays.

The constant delays have exacerbated their ability to survive the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Uhuru Kenyatta gave repeated orders and ultimatums for the government to pay in June 2019 to clear all pending bills but some still remain unresolved.

Even the International Monetary Fund told the Treasury to spend part of the Sh79.3 billion under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) last year to settle the pending bills.

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Counties blame the pile up of supplier bills on delays by the National Treasury to disburse funds that have crippled development spending at the devolved units which use all available resources to pay salaries and recurrent sending.

Parliament has proposed setting up a fund financed through a long term bond for payment of verified pending bills verified by October this year.

There are however concerns over the validity of the supplier claims with fears that it could be used to pay fictitious and inflated claims without clear checks.

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