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Henry Rotich in the eye of storm over sovereign bond proceeds

By Paul Wafula | December 4th 2015

If there is any public official who should have answers on the Sh250 billion Eurobond loan, then it is National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich.

But events of the past two months since it emerged that the money had been stashed in an offshore account, against Government procedure, have painted a picture of a man who is not on top of things at the Treasury.

His handling of the Eurobond controversy has only served to deepen the mystery surrounding how the money was spent, by giving general explanations lacking in specifics.

There was drama at the last press conference he called to explain how the money was spent, when it became apparent that the he did not know the exact bank where the money had been deposited.

When asked by this reporter, Mr Rotich first cited Citibank in the US before one of the Treasury officials at the same meeting passed him a note indicating that it was actually JP Morgan Chase Bank.

But it appears that the career economist has finally decided to come out of the closet in a change of tack to explain himself today, having invited the Opposition to clear the air on how the billions were spent.

Controversial payments

Rotich is not new to controversy having been the head of macro-economics at the Treasury since 2006 before he was appointed CS.

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At the height of the controversial payments of the Anglo Leasing billions, Rotich kept journalists waiting at the Treasury for three hours before cancelling the press conference all together.

He was born and raised in Kerio Valley, in a humble home, from where he rose to become the most powerful official in charge of finances in the country.

His colleagues at the Treasury say he was at his best when he was in charge of the budget process when he prepared the key budget documents including the Budget Statements, as well as providing strategic co-ordination of structural reforms in the area of fiscal and financial management.

Prior to joining the Ministry of Finance, Rotich worked in the Research Department of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

He also had a four-year stint at the International Monetary Fund’s local office in Nairobi where he was attached between 2001-2004 working as an economist.

Kenya issued a $2billion (Sh174 billion) sovereign bond in June 2014 for general budget support including funding infrastructure and repayment of the syndicated loan amounting to $600 million (Sh53.2 billion at the then exchange rates) plus accrued interest of $4.6million (Sh400 million).

Rotich said after repaying the syndicated loan and other commissions owed to the arrangers of the Eurobond, the remaining Sh196.9 billion was disbursed to 14 ministries, departments or government agencies.

The department of infrastructure took the lion’s share of the funds receiving Sh64 billion, the Ministry of Energy Sh21 billion, Water and Irrigation Sh15 billion and the department of Agriculture Sh14 billion.

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