From: joachim omolo ouko
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Today is fourth Sunday of Lent. The Lenten campaign theme is Good Governance. First reading is from 1 Samuel 16:184.108.40.206-13, second reading is from St Paul’s letter to Ephesians 5:8-14 and the Gospel from John 9:1-41.The story is about Tswani community who were so excited that with devolved their community would be provided with better service delivery.
They thought the new system would bring leadership closer to the people and that that all be involved in decision-making. Barely a year after the polls, some of the community and village leaders had already clearly put their own interests before those of the community and the villages.
They mismanaged funds allocated to the communities, moved into big expensive houses, bought themselves big cars that cost millions of shillings, furnished their offices with expensive furniture and spent huge sums on entertainment and trips abroad.
The campaign comes at the time Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is due to launch investigations into 30 county governors after receiving complaints of abuse of office and misuse of funds.
It is also at the time the State cannot account for Sh500b, which got lost during the 2011/12 financial year. Taxpayers lost more than Sh300 billion, but the latest estimates indicate the figure could rise to nearly Sh500 billion according to Auditor General Edward Ouko.
Ouko estimates that up to 30 per cent of the Government’s total budget in any financial year is wasted. Last year, Sh338 billion of the total government expenditure for 2011/2012 was unaccounted-for.
The total budget for the 2012/2013 financial year stood at Sh1.45 trillion, of which 30 per cent or Sh483 billion is likely to be misappropriated. Airtime, flowers and tea alone were reported to account for Sh338 billion.
The campaign is also coming at the time several business surveys reveal that business corruption is still widespread and that companies frequently encounter demands for bribes and informal payments to ‘get things done’ in Kenya.
There are also pending corruption cases which include Kenya Pipeline Company since 2008 in oil scam involving privately-owned Triton Oil Company in which the government lost 7.5 billion shillings ($86.7 million).
The other pending cases of corruption include land fraud over a deal worth 283 million shillings ($3.2 million) since March 2010. Currently the Kenyatta government has also been hit by claims of irregularities in the award of the Sh447 billion Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway that critics say has been overpriced by more than Sh120 billion.
It is about the time Labour secretary Kazungu Kambi was forced to suspend a Sh5.03 billion project by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to build infrastructure works in Nairobi’s Tassia Estate.
China Jiangxi International was awarded the Hazina Trade Center contract at a cost of Shs 6.7 billion despite a lower bid of Shs 5.9 billion by China Wu Yi, another Chinese company. The award of the tender raised eyebrows before Atwoli blew the whistle on the Shs 5 billion sewerage and road pavement scam.
Kenyans are also losing more than Sh1.8 billion annually in salary payments to ghost workers in the Civil Service. According to recent revelation the government flushes Sh150 million monthly in salaries for workers who are non-existent, dead, retired or sacked – but are still retained in the State payroll – hence ballooning Kenya’s public wage bill.
Kenya’s public sector wage bill currently stands at Sh458.7 billion, which is equivalent to 12.2 per cent of GDP. The amount is almost equal to the Sh470.8 billion the Kenya Revenue Authority collected in the six months to December 2013; and almost half of the expected total revenue of Sh973.5 billion targeted to be collected by June this year.
It explains why Kenya’s debt load crossed the 50 per cent of GDP mark late last year to stand at Sh2.11 trillion or 57 per cent of GDP by end of December 2013. Unless Kenya puts a tight lid on its debt load by fighting against corruption its economy will not be on a steady growth path.
Fiscal discipline will break down and disrupt provision of public services if the wage bill growth is left unchecked. The country’s image abroad is already at stake following the failure by the Treasury to allocate Sh679 million to cater for subscription fees to international bodies.
Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
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