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Simmering diplomatic row as Spain demands Kenya settles Ksh1.2 billion debt

Kenya and the Kingdom of Spain are embroiled in a diplomatic spat over outstanding debt totaling more than Ksh. 1.2 billion.

Kenya faces steep interest charges for a ten-year delay in paying a Spanish company that built a multifunctional dam at the lower Ewaso Ngiro.

The Spanish Embassy has attempted, but been unsuccessful, to get the money paid after writing to several government agencies.

One such letter written to Treasury says: “The Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain presents its complaints to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya and has the honor to forward herewith a letter from Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to Kenya.”

The letter from Spain Ambassador to Kenya Javier Garcia de Viedma read in part: “As you are aware the longstanding debt with the Spanish companies TYPSA is yet to be settled…despite the many efforts taken by the company and this embassy to collect the outstanding payments we still have not received any way forward on the issue.”

The letter further noted that the issue is endangering future investments in Kenya and the reputation of the government of Kenya.

In another letter to Head of Public Service Felix Koskei and copied to the then CS for Ministry of East African Community Rebecca Miano, Treasury CS affirmed that the Spanish company was contracted by the Ministry of Regional Development, now Ministry of East African Community, for the detailed design of the lower Ewaso Ng’iro South river multipurpose dam with a contract of Ksh.3.1 billion and Ksh.267.5 million.

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The embassy further noted that the pending bills were taken through verification and found to be eligible and payment ought to have been made.

The letters from the Spanish embassy drew the attention of Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry, then led by Dr. Alfred Mutua, who asked the ministry to balance between mutual beneficial relations between Kenya and Spain and indeed other foreign countries.

The ongoing dispute over unpaid payments also arose at the Madrid joint business forum between Spain and Kenya, where Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Albares Bueno raised the matter of unpaid bills owing to Spanish companies operating in Kenya.

However, the Kenyan administration claims that it is waiting for more verification from the committee overseeing outstanding bills, which is led by former Auditor General Edward Ouko.

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