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Counties

Meru County to review Sh2bn pending bills for projects and supplies

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Meru County government will review pending bills for projects and supplies to ensure no money is lost, as it moves to settle Sh2 billion owed to contractors and suppliers.

Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu said the government will have to renegotiate some of the bills if they do not match their true value, while ghost projects will not be paid.

Speaking when he met with auditors evaluating the unpaid bills, Mr Ntuchiu said they had established that some works were overcharged and some uncompleted.

He said they had formed a task force to evaluate claims by contractors and suppliers who worked under former governor Peter Munya and the current regime, to ensure only genuine ones were paid.

The deputy governor, who is also the county executive for finance, however, said they would not discriminate and everyone would be paid based on merit.

He pledged to settle the debts as soon as the team of consultants forwards the report to the Auditor-General and the Treasury releases the money.

Exaggerated costs

“The task force established that there are some suppliers and contractors who had exaggerated prices of what was to be supplied or work to be done. What was recommended is that where they think there was no value for money, and work was carried out, we are going to negotiate with the contractors and suppliers. It is something that has been passed to the office of the Auditor-General,” said Mr Ntuchiu.

Mr Ntuchiu at the same time appealed to the National Treasury to release money to the counties in good time to avoid pileup of debts, saying the piecemeal release was hurting people doing business with counties.

“Some have taken loans to stay afloat and it is a good thing that President Uhuru Kenyatta has issued the directive that the debts be settled. We have not declined to pay the people we owe,” he said.

He said the National Treasury owed the devolved unit Sh3.2 billion by the time Governor Kiraitu Murungi assumed office, which was being disbursed in batches of about Sh800 million per month.

“The delay by the national government to release money owed to counties hurts business because debts only escalate. The last time we received money was in November yet we are now in January.

"That is the main problem because when you get money, you settle recurrent expenditure such as salaries and basic needs such as medicine and you are left in debt again,” said Mr Ntuchiu.

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