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Scandal: Raila under fire over ‘missing’ cash

By | October 24th 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Allan Kisia and Renson Buluma

A storm was brewing on Sunday over the multi-million shilling question mark placed by the World Bank on the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme.

The bank suspended funding for the programme supervised by the Prime Minister’s Office over allegations funds were misused.

It is said to have demanded its money back.

The funds in question include Sh970 million already disbursed.

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Prime Minister Raila Odinga is led towards Kaya Duruma, a Duruma sacred shrine by Kaya elders on Sunday.[PHOTO:STANDARD]

The World Bank had allocated Sh4.3 billion for the programme to finance projects under the programme.

It came as the Government was lobbying the International Monetary Fund for $350 million (Sh35 billion) aid to help stabilise the shilling, which hit a historic low of Sh107 recently, a move opposed by a section of politicians.

Officials in the Office of the Prime Minister are alleged to have misused the funds.

On Sunday, members of the G7 Alliance demanded that PM Raila Odinga takes political responsibility for the scandal.

Led by Eldoret North MP William Ruto, they said those who are in charge of the programme should bear full responsibility.

"The initiative was a conduit to steal public money. That is why I opposed it from the beginning," Ruto stated, adding that the way the initiative was designed was suspect.

But the PM’s spokesman Dennis Onyango said Raila would respond comprehensively when he returns to Nairobi. The PM was in Mombasa on Sunday.

Officials are said to have diverted money aimed at giving youths temporary employment. Reports indicated that Treasury and the Prime Minister’s office were in discussion on ways to refund the bank’s contribution.

On Sunday, Ruto said it would be immoral for the taxpayer to shoulder the burden.

"How can the taxpayer pay for the crimes committed by people who are still in office?" wondered Ruto.

MPs Eugene Wamalwa and Ekwe Ethuro and former assistant minister Raphael Wanjala echoed Ruto’s sentiments.

Wamalwa said the Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative was doomed to have such scandals. "The idea was half baked and that is why officials were able to divert funds meant for the jobless and voiceless youths," he added.

The Saboti MP said he would table the matter in Parliament next week. "We want the Prime Minister to be held accountable," he added.

Ethuro said it is regrettable that senior Government officials can steal from the youth. "The Prime Minister should just step aside because he is the overall boss," he added.

Wanjala said it is shocking that corruption occurred right under the nose of the Prime Minister.

The four G7 members were speaking at a rally in Nambale in Busia County. The team also addressed other rallies in Matayos and Mundika.

Demanded transparency

At another forum, Safina party leader Paul Muite demanded more transparency in the Government’s dealings with the IMF.

Speaking in Malindi where he led Safina’s campaigns, Muite said the Government must be more accountable and transparent when taking up additional loans, as in the long run it is the taxpayer who suffers when such monies are misappropriated.

"There is concern that while Kenyans continue to demand for accountability from the Government of Kenya over our public debt, it (the government) continues to ignore the public and borrows and indebts the people of Kenya," said a letter written by Mr Muite to the IMF.

The senior counsel said the country had lost money through lending deals signed by the Government.

Ruto said the Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative was not the right way to empower youths.

"We are in the 21st Century and people are talking about the Internet, Facebook and knowledge based economy, but we are giving our youths machetes to clear bushes," he argued.

He added that youths should be empowered with skills that are relevant to the global economy.

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