Kenyan businesses struggling with unpaid government bills may finally see some relief, with the Treasury eyeing a mini-budget in March specifically to address this issue. This move aims to settle the over Ksh630 billion (US$5.3 billion) owed to contractors and suppliers, easing cash flow woes and potentially boosting economic activity.
As of last September, State entities owed contractors and suppliers a staggering Ksh631.56 billion, with corporations holding the majority share at Ksh509.37 billion. This debt burden has crippled many businesses, hindering their growth and investment capacity.
The Treasury Principal Secretary, Chris Kiptoo, announced the planned mini-budget, stating, “We are hoping that the verification of pending bills will be completed within one year, but we have given them three months to give us the first report.” This swift action aims to expedite payments and alleviate financial strain on businesses.
A committee tasked with verifying the validity of pending bills is currently working to ensure transparency and accuracy before disbursements are made. The first list of verified claims is expected mid-March, paving the way for their inclusion in the supplementary budget.
Beyond settling outstanding bills, this move is seen as a signal of the government’s commitment to improve its payment culture and foster a more predictable business environment. This could attract further investment and stimulate economic growth in the long run.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) welcomed the news, with CEO Carole Kariuki stating, “This is a positive step towards addressing a long-standing challenge faced by businesses. We urge the government to ensure the process is transparent and efficient.”
While businesses cautiously welcome the initiative, some express concern about the effectiveness of the verification process and the potential for delays. They emphasize the need for clear communication and timely implementation to maximize the impact of the mini-budget.
The planned mini-budget represents a significant step toward addressing a major pain point for Kenyan businesses. Its success will depend on efficient verification, transparency, and swift disbursement of funds. If executed effectively, this initiative could provide much-needed relief to businesses, inject liquidity into the economy, and pave the way for a more conducive business environment in Kenya.
“This is a critical step towards restoring confidence in the government’s payment culture.” – John Njoroge, Entrepreneur
“We urge the government to prioritize small and medium-sized businesses, which are often hit the hardest by delayed payments.” – Jane Mwangi, SME Owner
“Transparency and accountability are crucial to ensure this initiative delivers on its promise.” – David Kiprono, Economist