Outgoing Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) national chairman Kiprono Kittony has called for the formation of a taskforce on unpaid bills.
Mr Kittony said the team should be mandated to collect data on unpaid bills in national and county governments as well as by the private sector.
“This is a huge problem that has remained unaddressed for years and continues to hurt many companies and individuals making Kenya a costly place to do business. Let us analyse the amount of debt owed as well as age of the debt,” he said.
Mr Kittony said the probe should be extended to State corporations and multinationals. “We must seek a lasting solution to this problem that has disrupted the trust needed to do business in Kenya. Billions of shillings are held by unscrupulous businesses while the government agencies owe payments for years with no recourse offered to traders,” he said.
Last February, the National Assembly’s Committee on Implementation (CoI) received a report from the Treasury indicating Sh32.5 billion was yet to be paid by government to local traders as at November 12, 2018. Among the biggest defaulters are the Ministry of Defence that owes Sh8.93 billion, Ministry of Health Sh7.1 billion, State Department of Interior Sh5.4 billion and State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications at Sh3.2 billion.
Last January, Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said counties risked losing up to half the share of funds from the national government over Sh108.41 billion owed to contractors and suppliers at the end of the last financial year in June 2018.
Mr Rotich said the national government may be forced to intervene in cases where counties had defaulted on payments amounting to more than Sh1 billion for more than 90 days.
On the private sector front, Kenya Association of Retail Suppliers has said retail chains owe them about Sh40 billion, with many counting losses after market giant Nakumatt went under receivership, closing most of its flagship and once profitable stores.