The Nairobi County Chief Executive for Revenue and Budgeting, Vesca Kangogo, has sympathised with suppliers who have not been paid by previous regimes, assuring them that they will soon receive their dues.
Speaking in Mombasa Tuesday, during a two week meeting of executives and chief officers among other heads of departments to review revenue and budget progress in the city county, Kangogo said some suppliers have died following frustrations to recover their money they invested in previous regime amounting to about 60.5 billion shillings.
“People are dying, their properties being auctioned because there has been a lot of delay by the County Governments to pay their pending bills,” said the Chief Executive
She said the current leadership under Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, understands that people who supplied and did the work at the time and that the County Government has to strike a compromise with all involved on how it can balance between paying pending bills as well as implement development projects.
Kangogo said the Nairobi City County inherited huge pending bills and that part of the current budget, as directed by the President through an Executive Order, required county governments to ensure they address the issue of pending bills.
“This financial year we are targeting Sh17billion, we have very aggressive strategies in order to settle part of the pending bills as well give priority to development projects within the capital city,” assured the Budget Executive.
Washinton McOdingo, Chief Officer Revenue and Budgeting, said Nairobi City County plan to raise adequate revenue, especially in 10 main revenue streams that give Nairobi County 80 percent income.
He said top on the list is land rates, where new valuation law will be effected in 2019 from the valuation one that had been in use since 1980.
“In 1980 an acre of land in upper hill was going for Sh400, 000. Today an acre of land depending on location is Sh650 million to Sh1 billion. A lot of properties whose value has appreciated by over 190 percent and yet we are using the valuation law for 1980,” observed McOdingo.
He noted that a new valuation law is ready awaiting for the County Assembly to resume session to lay it before the House so that it can form a basis for collection of land rates.
The Chief Officer added that the reasons why the County Government did not collect sufficient land rates are because government entities, especially the National Government have yet to pay.
He stated, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is always hot in pursuit this year, the county has to review the budget since they have to pay Sh3billion to KRA.
McOdingo revealed the county has already paid Sh2billion, noting further that removing Sh3billion from any county government budget, 90percent of them would collapse but Nairobi still survives since it raises enough revenue to pay for Recurrent Expenditure.
“The National Government has had difficulties in releasing funds to county governments but besides that we still manage to raise sufficient revenue to pay salaries and run operations and maintenance,” lamented McOdingo
The Chief Officer warned that the county governments will now be serious and aggressively enforce on land rates.
“You will see us clamping buildings, both government and private, we will take our fire trucks to block their entrances people must pay what they owe because you cannot, on one hand demand the county government provide services and then not be able to pay rates to enable us to do that,” he stressed.
McOdingo said besides land rates, other issues that include parking fees which a lot of government agencies still do not pay, citing buildings at the government square along Harambee avenue around KRA, Treasury and Police Headquarters among other areas.
“We will not allow this to continue, you will see very stringent measures being taken by the County Government of Nairobi as from next week to collect the fees that are owed to it. The County needs to collect parking, to free up parking spaces that government agencies are holding, at some point something like this has to happen,” he pointed out.
He vowed that Nairobi will go for KRA if they owe payment, adding “ we will go for them because when they have a problem with us they don’t hesitate even for a day to put up notices on our accounts and close them and stop us from operating,”
“We have told every sector that has revenue, trade, markets parking fees, land rates, public health fees, fire charges all these major revenue streams, we have set up targets everyone to come and defend their strategies, immediately we live Mombasa we begin to aggressively mop up that revenue to be able to offer the services the Nairobians,” The Chief Officer assured.
McOdingo defended Nairobi City against alleged corruption, saying the Governor was committed in the fight against graft.
“We have a zero tolerance to corruption if you ask anyone in the County Government he will confirm that previously you would find a lot of suppliers and a lot of people and brokers milling around city hall corridors, that does not happen today because they know that even if they walked there and tried to influence officers nothing will happen corruptly and behind doors,” he said.
He assured that the county will continue to sustain services even if there is delayed releas of exchequer fund for the Sharable Revenue, defending that if money was being stolen there would be no money to pay even salaries.
The Chief Officer informed that so far the County Government has paid Sh2.6billion pending bills to suppliers and additional Sh2billion to KRA ahead of another 1billion and that in a span of three months, a total of Sh.5.6 billion in pending bills. He revealed that the 4.9 billion KRA owes Nairobi City County is a debt from previous regime.
The Revenue and Budgeting Chief Officer said the County Government is pleased at the pace at which projects progress are being implemented, noting that in 2018/2019 revenue increase by 139 million and a collection Sh10.25 billion.
“Roads have been made, rehabilitation of the health centres, buying equipment’s for our facilities, done stadiums in the four Sub counties in Nairobi,” he explained.
The two officers justified the Mombasa meeting as a review of performance in the first two quarters to see the progress in development of the Annual Development Plan (ADP) and the CIDP 2019/2020 and laying strategies for better budgeting processing 2020-2021 Financial Year.