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Governors in dilemma as counties sag under suspicious debts.

By BARNABAS BIINewly-elected governors in the North Rift have an uphill task in settling pending debts inherited from the previous regimes.They are equally faced with the daunting task of completing 'stalled' projects started by their predecessors as audit reports show billions of shillings have been lost in ghost projects.

The governors, elected in the August 8 General Election, are Stephen Sang (Nandi), Prof John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) and Stanley Kiptis (Baringo).In Nandi County, for instance, Mr Sang has released an audit report on expenditures by the former Governor Dr Cleophas Lagat's administration, showing attempts by contractors to fleece the county of more than Sh670 million in fictitious claims.

In the report, the contractors are demanding payment for 656 projects undertaken in 2013-2017, which the audit reveals do not meet the threshold of public procurement regulations."The audit has unearthed many irregularities.

What is being claimed is so huge yet we inherited only Sh759 million as balance brought forward in the 2016/17 financial year," Mr Sang told journalists recently in his office in Kapsabet. The county government has pending bills amounting to Sh1.2 billion.

KIPCHOGE KEINOThe construction of the Governor's office and Kipchoge Keino stadium are some of the pending projects in the county. According to a report by Auditor-General Edward Ouko, the initial cost of the Governor's office was estimated at Sh103 million for the two-storey building but an additional floor was later approved at a cost of Sh21 million.

The construction work started on February 10, 2014, and it was to be completed in February 6, 2015. The building still remains unfinished."The county management has not explained if and when the project will be completed and when the stakeholders will get value for their resource," stated the report released on June 30, 2015.Governor Sang now wants the national government to take over the construction of the stadium, which started four years ago.

It can also be revealed that some of the devolved units in the North Rift incurred losses due to excessive expenditure on domestic and foreign travels which exceeds the approved budget. Controller of Budget Mrs Agnes Odhiambo now wants measures put in place to cut down on the expenses.

PENDING BILLSAccording to annual County Budget Implementation Review Report for 2016/2017, Turkana had pending bills of Sh2.9 billion, Nandi Sh813.5 million, Elgeyo Marakwet Sh785 million and Baringo Sh91.4 million as at June 30, 2017.The pending bills which are in form of recurrent and development expenditure, according to Mrs Odhiambo, need to be perused by the Auditor General to ascertain their legitimacy.Baringo County had excessive domestic and foreign expenditure last financial year, amounting to Sh195.14 million up from Sh125.87 million spent in 2015/16 financial year.

It consisted of Sh117.61 million for County Assembly and Sh77.54 million for the County Executive representing 5.2 per cent of the recurrent expenditure.

The county had a total recurrent expenditure of S.75 billion out of which Sh2.38 billion was spent on personnel emoluments and Sh1.36 billion on operations and maintenance.STAFFING STRUCTUREElgeyo Marakwet County recorded declined local revenue collection and increased wage bill in 2016/2017 which is likely to affect implementation of key development projects.

The devolved unit generated Sh97.32 million last financial year as compared to Sh128 million in 2015/2017 representing a decline of 23.9 per cent in total local revenue collection.It at the same time experienced increased wage bill from Sh1.79 billion to Sh2.05 billion last financial year and Mrs Odhiambo has called on the County Public Service Board to establish an optimal staffing structure to manage the wage bill.

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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Jan 14, 2018
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