State broadcaster on spot over financial misappropriation

Senate ICT committee chairman Gideon Moi chairing the committee when they met KBC on the outdoor advertising bill at Parliament, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Kenya’s national broadcaster is sinking into a financial crisis, a Senate committee was told.

A loss of close to Sh7 billion has seen the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) unable to remit statutory charges to relevant authorities.

An uncleared loan from Japan is also weighing down the corporation.

The loan from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) of Japan was borrowed in 1989 and has since grown to over Sh40 billion.

Officials from the broadcaster yesterday told the Senate Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that it was unable to remit Sh205 million to the Kenya Revenue Authority despite deducting the money from the employees.

The committee, chaired by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, also heard that KBC had not paid Sh127 million for satellite operations.

Employee deductions

Further, deductions for employees had not been remitted to respective savings and credit cooperative organisations (saccos).

The corporation has also not remitted employees' pension contributions.

Samwel Otieno, who represented the KBC managing director, said the corporation was spending up to Sh180 million every month on recurrent expenditure against Sh90 million that it was generating.

The committee expressed shock at how the institution was managing its funds and demanded change.

“It is wrong, even in the eyes of God, to deprive labourers of their wages. We are disappointed,” said Gideon.

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang noted that the future of the employees at the State Corporation was uncertain.

“You are treating your people badly, you need to convince us that KBC is worth having,” said Mr Kajwang.

The also further expressed concern about the content aired on KBC television and radio stations, saying it was nowhere close to what its competitors were offering.

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua and nominated Senator Alice Milgo accused the broadcaster of showing no signs of improvement despite receiving immense support from the Government.

Government funds

“During digital migration, when every station was off air, you received money from the Government and you never took advantage of this to try to emerge top in the competition,” said Mr Wambua.

The committee accused the broadcaster of acting as a training ground for talent that was then poached by its competitors.

“You need to collaborate with universities and take the best students for training in your own academy then employ them,” advised Wambua.

Committee members expressed surprise when KBC disclosed that it relied on only 37 correspondents around the country.

In its defence, KBC hinted at ongoing restructuring plans to ensure it becomes more competitive, including setting up five music recording studios to tap youth talent.

The committee directed the broadcaster to appear before it again with a concrete restructuring plan.