BELOW IS A STATEMENT ON FIRST STEPS BY OPPOSITION LEADER RAILA ODINGA TO ADDRESS CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT.
STATEMENT BY RT. HON RAILA ODINGA:
INTRODUCTION OF BILL ON PROMPT PAYMENT OF SUPPLIERS TO CUT CORRUPTION CARTELS AND SAVE BUSINESSES FROM LOSSES:
On 19th October 2016, I stated that it had become clear that we cannot wait for help from the government because it is aiding and abetting corruption.
I told Kenyans that we need to take control of our destiny as we did in all the major reforms that have been achieved in Kenya. I reminded our people that there is no change that we have achieved in this country because the government gave it to us. We have always done it for ourselves. We have always had to fight the government even for the most basic of changes.
More importantly, I said that I shall progressively be engaging Kenyans in a self-help programmes through which we can rid ourselves of this scourge that is destroying our nation.
I promised to start making a number of suggestions on how we can do this together with regard to fighting corruption without waiting for President Uhuru Kenyatta.
I said then and reiterate now that Jubilee has no will to fight corruption and in the little they have tried, they have run out of ideas.
I therefore wish today to propose to you The Prompt Payment Bill, 2016, which ODM shall be sponsoring as a party bill in the National Assembly.
The Bill, if it becomes law, shall apply to all public authorities that are procuring entities in both the National Government and County Governments. Its highlights are as follows:
1. That all invoices for the supply of goods and services must be settled within 30 days of submission to the government.
2. That any questions about an invoice must be raised within the said 30 days and communicated to the supplier in writing before the end of the said period.
3. All such queries must be resolved within 10 days from the date they are raised and communicated to the supplier.
4. That a decision not to pay must be made before the expiry of the query period and must also be communicated immediately to the supplier.
5. Every public authority that is a procuring entity shall establish an internal appeals system to review all decisions made not to settle an invoice.
6. A supplier in respect of whom a decision not to pay has been communicated shall have a right to demand the internal appeal mechanism to review the decision not to pay.
7. All internal appeal mechanism decisions must be reached within 10 days from the day they are submitted by the supplier for review.
8. There shall be established a Public Invoices Settlement Tribunal to hear appeals from any decisions made by internal appeals mechanisms of every public authority not to pay an invoice.
9. A supplier whose appeal to the tribunal is dismissed shall have recourse to the Court of Appeal on a final appeal.
This Bill is a response to a real dire situation confronting those who supply goods and services to the government.
Partly because of corruption and also because the government is broke, suppliers are not being paid. Many suppliers are being harassed and have been reported to Credit Reference Bureau by banks from which they borrowed money to finance government tenders. Many young people who responded to government promises on tenders are dejected because no payment is forthcoming despite frequent presidential orders that they be paid.
The area of payment of public invoices has the highest prevalence of corruption in Kenya today.
Almost no invoice to government is ever paid without the supplier surrendering a percentage of the invoiced sum to various officers who authorize payment for supplies. Many times, the gravy train runs much higher up the ranks in government offices, reaching Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries with accountants, clerk and messengers claiming their shares too.
The power exercised by public officers over the settlement of invoices is currently absolute and has resulted in business men being blackmailed into paying loyalties on every pending payment due to them. Every signature required to approve the payment is a toll station.
This abuse of power is one of the most egregious forms of corruption in the public sector.
Many commercial enterprises are unable to stay afloat after they have gone into business with the government and there are increasing numbers of these enterprises that fold up because of unsettled invoices.
The enterprises that are able to make supplies to the government raise their prices way above market rates in order to factor in bribes and delays in the settlement of their invoices which can run into years.
Yet we know that there is no public procurement that is undertaken by the government without a budgetary provision. There is therefore no excuse for any public authority to delay payment of any invoice after a supply has been made. The Prompt Payment Bill, 2016 seeks to put an end to this abuse of office and the blackmail Kenyans go through.
RT. HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH
NOVEMBER 24, 2016.