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Only 10% of county debts 'are genuine' - Senators.

Kenyans risk losing up to Sh81 billion from the counties pending bills, the Senate Committee has said.

The Senate Parliamentary Accounts Committee yesterday raised the red flag in a possible loss of billions of shillings.

The team is chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang' said only 10 per cent of the bills are genuine.

It said the country is staring at a mega scandal bigger than the current NYS, NCPB, Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Power scandals combined.

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, in her 2016-17 report, totalled non-paid bills in the counties at Sh99 billion.

Counties have blamed the Treasury's late disbursement of funds for their rising debts, a position Odhiambo disputed.

The bills accumulated from contracts signed with suppliers, creditors and contractors and are yet to be paid.

Contractors and suppliers have in the recent past decried delays in payment by county governments.

A majority of them run into overhead costs after borrowing from commercial banks using Local Purchase Orders and the contract agreement.

Kajwang' said it is important to scrutinise all the pending bills in the counties to ascertain authenticity.

"We might be talking of a fraud of huge proportions," he said.

"We will have to sit as the Senate and have an audit of these claims. The rot might be bigger than what is happening in the national government."

It emerged that out of the listed Sh900 million pending bills in Isiolo, only Sh 97 million is authentic.

Governor Mohammed Kuti appeared before the Senate to answer to audit queries raised by Auditor General Edward Ouko in his audit report.

"When I assumed office last year, during the exit meeting I formed a task force to evaluate the authenticity of the pending bills. The preliminary report suggests that only Sh99 million is valid," the governor told the committee.

The county does not have creditors' records, including the ledger and the register.

Kuti took over from Governor Godana Doyo.

In January, Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi formed a seven-member committee to audit the county's Sh1.3 pending bills.

He said the county government will not spend any money in paying contractors who did shoddy work. Kiraitu told journalists at his office that the committee will sieve genuine claims from the dozens that the county is being asked to settle.

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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Jun 8, 2018
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