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Kenyans deserve to know why another Eurobond and its use

By The Standard | Published Fri, February 23rd 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 22nd 2018 at 23:12 GMT +3

Yesterday’s report that Kenya has successfully priced a new $2 billion (Sh203 billion) Eurobond issue at the London Stock Exchange should not just get the government excited without addressing the concerns of Kenyans.

Using his twitter handle, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that he was “pleased” with the news that the bond had attracted bids worth $14 billion (Sh1.4 trillion), to signal the confidence of investors in the economy.

However, the news coincided with Transparency International’s 180-country Corruption Perception Index that shows Kenya is still stuck among the bottom 20 countries where corruption is viewed rampant.

While government has embarked on a borrowing spree, pushing national debt above Sh4.8 trillion; thrice the debt level in March 2013, accountability issues have dampened its development projects.

Auditor General’s reports have consistently pointed to massive wastage of resources even as the analysis from the office of the Controller of Budget shows underutilization of money meant for development.

Up to now, the debate on whether or not the proceeds of the 2014 debut Sh250 billion Eurobond issue was well used has not died. This, even as President Kenyatta got amused that the Auditor General was determined to fly abroad to scrutinize the transactions.

As it receives this Sh203 billion, the National Treasury should come out to explain what it plans to do with the money and why it was important to borrow. While in 2014 it said that the Eurobond could lower interest rates and cut its domestic appetite for debt, not much was achieved.

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Away from this particular borrowing, government owes the public an explanation on how it has been using borrowed money, and if the projects that it has been undertaking have made life any better.

Giving oversimplified explanations such as “the issue has been politicized” has only served as hiding grounds for public officers to escape audit.

A clear scrutiny on the projects needs to be carried out to capture, in monetary terms, the gains that have accrued to the public out of such development. Waiting until after development only means that the country risks piling debt in projects that may not improve the lives of Kenyans.

Every Kenyan deserves access to information in order to understand what government is doing and why, if citizens are to rally behind the common goal of nation building.

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