Kenyan Gov’t suppliers go unpaid as corruption depletes State coffers


FILE PHOTO | Kenyans at Uhuru Park during Madaraka Day celebrations.
FILE PHOTO | Kenyans celebrate Madaraka Day

In Summary

  • Five business people who have contracts with the government say they and others have ended up blacklisted by credit reference bureau after defaulting.
  • CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge said delayed payments to suppliers, the bulk contracted by the government, made up 10 percent of the total volume of bad loans.
  • Such loans stood at 12.4 percent of the total in April, the highest level in more than a decade.

The Government is failing to pay many of its contractors on time, as corruption drains funds for legitimate projects from State coffers, reports have revealed.

The late payments are in turn hitting the financial sector, where non-performing loans have jumped to their highest level in over a decade.

The alleged link between corruption and non-payment of government invoices was made explicit in May.

Dozens of officials and business people were charged with involvement in the theft of nearly $100million (Ksh.10billion) of public funds.

They are accused of using doctored invoices to bill fake suppliers.

Asked about the difficulties that contractors were facing, Finance Minister Henry Rotich admitted that late payments were an issue.

“This is a problem which we are obviously addressing. It is important that we ensure there is prompt payment both at national government and at the county government,” he told Reuters.

The government had drawn up new regulations requiring payments be made within 60 days of goods or services being supplied, he said.

Top Officials

President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to stamp out corruption when he was first elected in 2013, but critics say he has been slow to pursue top officials.

Former anti-graft chief Philip Kinisu told Reuters in 2016 that Kenya was losing a third of its State budget to corruption every year. The government denied the figure.

Five business people who have contracts with the government say they and others have ended up blacklisted by credit reference bureau after defaulting.

“No bank wants to finance you anymore especially if you have a contract from the government,” said one small business owner who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A second supplier said: “You get disrupted in the middle of (the contract) …either because you are not speaking to the right people, making commitments to the right people, or your payments may just be delayed.”

Financially Stuck

George Muiruri, managing director of Leakey’s auctioneers, says repossessions among government suppliers had increased.

“They are financially stuck,” he said, adding that he deals with at least one such case every day.

Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge said in late May that delayed payments to suppliers, the bulk contracted by the government, made up 10 percent of the total volume of bad loans.

Such loans stood at 12.4 percent of the total in April, the highest level in more than a decade.

The Central Bank’s monetary policy committee cut its benchmark lending rate by 50 basis points in March, saying economic growth was well below its potential.

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