Kenya: Senate Orders Probe on County Governments’ Sh37bn Debt
Kenya’s Senate has ordered an audit of debts incurred by county governments over the least three years – to the sum of Sh37 billion ($364m).
The Rules and Business Committee said on Wednesday the matter warrants investigation by the auditor-general, after it was revealed last week that county governments had bills amounting to Sh37.36 billion at the end of June 2015.
Audit on pending bills
Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura confirmed on Wednesday the audit would be requested to probe outstanding bills.
“The RBC considered the matter during its sitting today and resolved that this matter be taken up by the County Public Accounts and Investments Committee. In doing so, the committee should request the auditor-general to conduct a special audit on pending bills for devolved governments and submit a report to the committee for consideration,” he said.
Reports have revealed the unsettled bills include Sh28.21 ($278m) billion for development and Sh9.25 billion ($82m) for recruitment purposes. Bungoma and Kisii counties have incurred the highest amount of unpaid bills, totalling Sh2.5 billion ($24m) each, according to the budget controller.
Senators have expressed fears that county bosses could be intentionally collecting debts ahead of next year’s general elections. They have requested the auditor-general start investigating the counties with highest debts first with no more than 10 being probed at a time.
During the investigations, the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee will summon governors to explain how the debts have been incurred.
Meanwhile, Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo has come in for criticism from some for revealing the figures so publically. Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya said she should not have publicised the debts at all.