EACC: New bill a step back in Kenya's corruption fight

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC)  CEO Twalib Mbarak. [Standard, File]

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has rejected the proposed Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The bill, put forward by Mbeere North MP Geoffrey Kariuki Ruku, has been criticised by the EACC for undermining the country’s anti-corruption efforts.

EACC, along with other stakeholders, presented their objections to the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) last Thursday, labelling the bill as a step back in the fight against corruption.

 The commission has urged Parliament to reject the bill, saying that it contradicts Article 227 of the Constitution, which mandates fairness, equity, transparency, and cost-effectiveness in public procurement.

The proposed amendment includes provisions that an officer or a person whose functions concern the administration, custody, management, receipt, or use of any part of the public revenue or public property is guilty of an offence if the person fraudulently makes payment or excessive payment from public revenues for sub-standard or effective goods, goods not supplied or not supplied in full, or services not rendered or not adequately rendered.

It also penalizes those who wilfully or carelessly fail to comply with any law or applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the procurement, allocation, sale or disposal of property, tendering of contracts, management of funds, incurring of expenditures, or engaging in a project without prior planning.

EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said public procurement accounts for a significant portion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), between 10 per cent and 13 per cent stressing the substantial amount of public funds managed through this process.

He stressed the importance of current legal measures, including Section 45 (2) (a) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act of 2003, in penalising procurement-related corruption and ensuring the proper management of public resources.

“We firmly believe that administrative actions alone are insufficient deterrents against the extensive adverse effects of corruption,” Mbaraka said.

Mbarak warned that the bill could lead to more corruption scandals by weakening the legal framework designed to protect public funds and promote accountability among officials.