Kenya: Hope for City Hall Contractors as Treasury 'Releases Sh1.3 Billion to Honour Pending Bills'

Contractors and suppliers who did business with the Nairobi County government will finally be paid their pending bills, ending a long wait of more than two years.

This is after the National Treasury released Sh1.3 billion to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) towards payment of contractors and suppliers who did business with City Hall in the financial year ended June 30, 2019, and who are owed Sh5 million and below.

Nairobi County Assembly Budget and Appropriation chairperson Robert Mbatia said the payment process has begun, adding that verification of documents as well as irregularities had delayed the process.

"There were so many irregularities and gaps that made the National Treasury fail to release the money until everything was in order," said Mr Mbatia.

"On Thursday, however, I met with officials from the National Treasury together with NMS and it was confirmed that Sh1.3 billion has been released to Major General Mohamed Badi and his team," he added.

Most pending bills are now with NMS following the transfer of four key county functions of health, transport, public works, utilities and ancillary services, and county planning and development services.

On January 27, 2021, acting Nairobi Governor Ann Kananu handed over contracts of pending bills worth Sh1.3 billion to NMS for payment of the arrears to restore liquidity to the contractors and suppliers.

Mr Badi pledged to clear the bills as soon as possible.

Suppliers and contractors

Mr Mbatia apologised to the suppliers and contractors for the delays, assuring them that the rollout of their payments has commenced.

"I want to apologise to the SMEs and contractors that were owed money and have been waiting for their money. I want to assure them that we have been promised that the rollout of the payment of the bills has started," the Kariobangi South MCA said.

Accumulation of the pending bills has been an issue of concern in the past with the county government unable to pay contractors and suppliers for goods and services supplied.

City Hall has been accused of prioritising payments to lawyers and garbage collection firms and not the SMEs.

A report by the Auditor General on pending bills revealed that Nairobi County has Sh10.67 billion eligible pending bills with only Sh4.1 billion paid out.

This has resulted in the contractors and suppliers spending years waiting for their bills to be settled but with little breakthrough.

Last week Thursday, Minority Whip Peter Imwatok wrote to Maj-Gen Badi and Ms Kananu inquiring on the status of the pending bills payment.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's order

He lamented that despite President Uhuru Kenyatta's order for SMEs to be paid to cushion them from the effects of Covid-19, no payment had been done.

He threatened to institute legal action against all officers responsible at NMS and City Hall on behalf of the SMEs if the payments were not done within a week.

This as he alleged that some officers were only busy processing payments for established contractors for purposes of seeking kickbacks, demanding that the alleged processing of the payments for garbage contractors be put on hold until the SMEs have been paid.

"SMEs continue to suffer despite funds having been allocated to clear their pending bills with the promise from NMS and City Hall yet to be fulfilled," said Mr Imwatok.

"I demand that within seven days of this letter, a report on the status of these payments be submitted to the offices of the undersigned. Should you fail to provide this update and act as required, I will be instituting legislative and possible legal measures against you and all responsible officers on behalf of SMEs in Nairobi," he added.

The letter was copied to the Controller of Budget, CEC for Finance, County Assembly and the Auditor General.

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