The government’s long-standing problems with clearing pending bills have been the subject of endless debate owing to the damage that overdue payments have on private businesses.
The roads sector where projects tend to be of a high nominal value has been a key driver of these bills.
The rising pile of unpaid bills points to either diversion or pilfering of funds.
For contractors, the tying up of capital worth Sh145 billion for certified works done means that their ability to take on new projects is severely limited, leading to job losses, and progressively poor execution of works as they work on limited budgets.
Two things need to happen therefore in order to solve this problem. One, the government must resist the temptation to start new projects before the existing ones are fully paid for, despite the political pressure to dole out new roads to appease voters.
Two, the Treasury should proceed to roll out the long-promised roads bond to clear pending bills, which will not just unlock capital for contractors, but also allow for stalled projects to move ahead.