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KRA board in a fix as Njiraini’s term ends without heir

By Geoffrey Mosoku | Published Thu, December 7th 2017 at 00:00, Updated December 6th 2017 at 19:32 GMT +3
Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General John Njiraini address a press conference in Nairobi on April 19, 2016. [PHOTO:DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD}

In summary

  • Search for successor allegedly stopped by call from senior State House official
  • Despite indicating that he is not seeking extension of term, commissioner general has not taken leave.

The Kenya Revenue Authority’s board is facing a headache as Commissioner General John Njiraini’s term comes to an end.

Mr Njiraini, who was expected to have taken terminal leave pending his retirement, is still in office as the board agonises over the next move.

Insiders say the KRA board has met several times but has yet to come up with a way forward, given that the top taxman has neither asked for an extension of his term nor left office.

The commissioner general has been at the helm of the tax authority since March 2012, when President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was then the Finance minister, appointed him. The KRA board retained him in March 2015 for a second three-year term.

He turns 60 on 19th of this month, while his six-year term ends in March next year.

The board, which met on Tuesday under the leadership of the chairman, Edward Sambili, is said to have resolved to start the process of hiring Njiraini’s replacement but the decision was shelved after intervention from a senior State House official.

Acting capacity

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It also failed to name the person to replace him in an acting capacity, only resolving to identify three people from within and forward their names to Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to pick from.

“The board has decided to start the process of recruiting a new commissioner general and wants Njiraini to proceed on terminal leave but we are now in a dilemma after the call,” a senior member of the Revenue Authority said.

The source said the board was in the process of asking Njiraini to immediately exit Times Towers but the plan was put on hold by the call from the senior State official.

Unexpected call

A source within the board informed The Standard that the commissioner general walked into the meeting holding his phone and handed it to the chairman.

“The chairman then walked out for a moment and when he returned, he told us that we couldn’t proceed as State House had advised otherwise,” the source added.

When contacted for comment, Dr Sambili was non-committal on the resolution but confirmed the board meeting.

The board was meeting following a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah a fortnight ago seeking to compel KRA to send Njiraini on terminal leave pending retirement.

During the board meeting Njiraini informed members that he did not intend to seek an extension of his term.

Omtatah filed the case before Justice Maureen Onyango, who ordered him to serve KRA with the suite papers and set November 30 as the hearing date.

When the matter came up for mention, Njiraini, through lawyer Waweru Gatonye, asked for a week to respond to the suit. The period which expires today.

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