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Joseph Kinyua now second in command at State House after President Uhuru Kenyatta

By JOE OMBUOR | September 29th 2013
Chief of Staff and Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua [PHOTO:STANDARD]


In a strange twist of fate, the Westgate terrorist attack has created an opportunity for the elevation of former Treasury PS Joseph Kinyua to the second in command at State House; answerable only to the President.

Kinyua is the new Chief of Staff and Head of Civil Service.

Popular opinion has it that President Kenyatta saw a safer pair of hands in Kinyua who, as Chief Executive of Kenya’s national treasury for close to a decade, oversaw most economic policies.

Kinyua was a key pillar in Kibaki’s government during which he helped with the groundwork for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s new government.

Affable and soft-spoken, Kinyua served as a high-ranking economist in both the Treasury and the Central Bank where his duties included crafting budgets. For over three decades, he was a major actor in policy decisions.

Kinyua’s arduous but sure walk to the top started in 1980 when he landed his first government posting as an economist at the CBK’s research department

His achievements are galore. His tenure as Permanent Secretary in the Treasury saw the crafting of new policies and opening up of the debt register to the public, a move that critics argue was prompted by pressure from the civil society.

A stickler for thoroughness, Kinyua in his tenure at the Treasury made a few regular updates on the state of the economy, including quarterly budgetary and economic reviews.

Pundits credit him with the increase in funds raised for government spending. They say revenue jumped nearly four fold under his watch at the Treasury enabling the state to fund close to 90 per cent of its public spending requirements. 

But hurdles abound.

Mr Kinyua often grappled with the politics of the day as happened in the run up to the 2013 General Election when he was accused of supporting a group competing for political power by attending its secret meetings. Stung to the core, he defended his movements in a full-page newspaper advertisement.

Prior to becoming PS, Mr Kinyua was tipped for the post of CBK governor before President Moi settled for Nahashon Nyaga. Moi instead chose to retain him at Treasury.

When the Narc administration came to power IN 2003, Kinyua got a new lease of life.

Kibaki first moved him to the Planning ministry before bringing him back to the Treasury in July 2004.

Times were when things went out of control and Kinyua said as much. In December 2010 he told Parliament that Sh270 billion from the national budget was not properly utilised and got lost in corruption through procurement, inflated prices of goods supplied to government and gross mismanagement.

It was an admission that the government was run by a mysterious cartel beyond the control of even the most efficient of civil servants.

The taints that characterised his tenure include the 2006 De la Rue currency printing contract terminated by then Finance minister Amos Kimunya where the public lost over Sh2.7 billion.

The heat was on Kinyua when he was accused by a parliamentary committee of looking for reasons to justify signing of a joint venture with the currency printing firm and stating what he could not prove. Mr Kinyua had defended the government’s intention to invest in De La Rue to control currency-printing business in the country.

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