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Kisota denies crippling debt, overdraft accounts

Alais Kisota.
Alais Kisota.
The county finance minister says money collected locally as taxes has helped in the provision of essential services.

FINANCIAL STABILITY: Insiders in the banking industry and at the county offices have confided that the county government debt was unmanageable

BY LINET MINAYO

The Kajiado county government has denied that it has overdraft or short-term loan facilities with Kajiado commercial banks.

“There is no such arrangement of debit kind of account with any bank at the moment,” said county finance minister Alais Kisota on February 25.

Kisota was responding to claims the county government has overdrafts and short-term loans that are running into millions of shillings in interest.

Insiders from the county government had claimed the overdrafts are becoming expensive for the county in terms of interest.

It is good business for the banks, but insiders in the banking industry and at the county offices confided that the debt was unmanageable. ”The staff are going without salaries and allowances,” said a source.

Huge amounts of imprest are pending, with one employee saying he is owed almost Ksh500,000.

The county finance minister said that by law, “for anything of this kind to happen, it will be done by the CEC Finance with requisite approval of the County Assembly.

“Therefore, none of this exists. However, when we took over, we found that the previous government was maintaining imprest standing accounts in various banks that were being used for this kind of arrangements,” claimed Kisota.

He claimed the previous regime was running overdrafts and short term credit facilities in millions of shillings before Governor Joseph ole Lenku was sworn in after the 2017 general election.

Kisota claimed such facilities were not only expensive for the county in terms of interest, but were also against existing financial management laws and regulations.

Consequently, he said, Lenku’s administration decided to properly close the accounts as per the law and streamline imprest issuance and accountability of the same.

“Therefore, those claiming we run such arrangements with local banks have no facts. Maybe those who were used to this kind of illegal transactions imagine that these illegalities still exist,” said Kisota.

Exchequer releases

The finance minister said the county has received its equitable share for five months (July, August, September, October and November).

“This is public information that is available and you can easily check and verify. Like other counties across the country, these five-month releases, together with its own source revenues, are what the government has been using to sustain operations,” said Kisota.

He said the money collected locally as taxes has also helped in the provision of essential services, including payment of eligible pending bills and salaries for eight months.

Cess collection and pilferage

Kisota said the county government is continuously streamlining cess collection to reduce cash handling and the pilferage that comes with cash handling at cess collection points.

He denied claims county workers at cess collection points were colluding with sand and marble transporters to swindle money.

“All the collectors are on daily targets for those revenue streams that payment is done daily and the point of sale machines used for receipting of collections are integrated with banking for reconciliation and validation of payments for every revenue collected,” he said.

Kisota said lorries and trucks carrying extraction materials such as marbles, quarry materials and sand are on a sticker payment system.

Ideally, cess collection for tracks and lorries transporting marble, quarrying materials and sand is that every truck or lorry involved must have a valid sticker, he added.

He said the county government has put in place enforcement measures and ensured fake stickers are not used.

The county minister for finance further said the government is working on further automation of the revenue collection and management system to provide more capabilities with convenient and secure online payment options.

This, he said, would minimize cash handling at revenue collection points, monitor revenue collection from multiple sources on a real-time basis and map out all revenue sources with proper targeting in the county.

Payment of pending bills

Kisota said the county government has been paying pending bills, but the processes in place are based on an audit conducted by the Office of the auditor General.

“The County Government of Kajiado has managed to pay all eligible pending bills according to the OAG report,” Kisota said.

He claimed the Cabinet Secretary for the national Treasury commended the governor and CEC finance for the effort to this effect and the letter issued by the Treasury as evidence of clearance for the eligible pending bills is with the county.

When asked how it happened that pending bills had been paid and yet there are many companies owed millions of shillings by the county, he said there was a committee appointed to look at old bills.

“A committee — Parsitau committee — was set up to look into the ineligible pending bills and to scrutinise and verify the eligibility of those bills for purposes of payment,” he said.

Kisota said the report was compiled and it is awaiting an audit by OAG to enable payments of the bills that the auditor will certify as eligible.

“We sincerely empathize with the providers of goods, services and contractors for works affected by the delay in settlement of these pending bills,” said the county minister.

We regret the delay in the processing of validating these bills to enable payment to commence,” he said.

 

 

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