Finance minister, Alais Kisota, says taxes collected helps in the provision of services including paying salaries, but the truth is accounts are in the red.
On Tuesday this week, after the county staff raised hell after their March salaries had failed to be debited into their accounts, Kisota told KNU the claims were “misdirected and lacked” proof.
Kisota even went ahead to accuse a certain blogger on social media of peddling “lies” to suit his masters.
In a text question that we sent to inquire if the claims of delayed salaries were true or false, Kisota said the salaries had been paid.
But on April 17, some of the same staff who had complained of delayed pay were at it again. Kisota had also dismissed as “lies” claims that all the departments had been directed to pool together resources to pay pending salaries.
Others said some banks had advanced them their salaries. This means the county will have to pay the same banks the moment it gets its share of finances from the national treasury.
“Who made that direction and where. There is nothing like that because we have already paid the salaries?” asked Kisota.
His statement came in when the national treasury was preparing to release finances to the counties on Wednesday
In March, Kisota speaking on behalf of the county government denied that it has overdraft or short-term loan facilities with Kajiado commercial banks.
The overdraft that has come to be known as “Fuluza” has shamelessly returned to haunt Governor Joseph Lenku’s administration.
The county’s IFMIS is always under lock and key. Suppliers, who have not been paid their dues in the last three years do not understand how the system works.
Insiders in the county’s finance department claim payment of claims and debts the close people recognised by the system are done at night whenever money is available.
During the day, those who manage payments in collaboration with the procurement department staff switch off their phones, and will only after the coffers are dry.
The junior staff at the county are crying that their seniors, including the governor, are the major spenders of the county finances.
Some of the staff who talked to us in confidentiality claimed some of the senior staff are now constructing big buildings and buying guzzler cars at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When we asked Kisota about the “overdraft” account being maintained by the county government in March, he said: “There is no such arrangement of debit kind of account with any bank at the moment.”
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. ”Staff members are going without salaries and allowances,” said a source.
Huge amounts of imprest are pending, with one employee saying he is owed almost Ksh 500,000.
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 arrangement,” 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 transaction imagine that these illegalities still exist,” said Kisota.
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 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.
All the departments in the county have closed up shop as all the vehicles have been grounded. Photocopies for government departments are now sourced from outside because of unpaid bills.
Towns under metropolitan cluster in Kajiado are in total darkness as the county’s CEO is busy running around drumming support for himself. He has refused to be advised by the people he appointed to be his eyes in the county.