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Civil servants, spouses and children targeted in wealth declaration forms

 Public Service Commission offices, Nairobi.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Thousands of civil servants and public officers are reeling in shock after the government returned their wealth declaration forms demanding that they include details of their spouses and children.

Those who have not supplied the necessary details will miss their salaries and allowances while those who fail to comply risk being fined as much as Sh1 million or serve a year in jail.

According to civil servants who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity, they are now supposed to include their Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) and the amount and type of income earned by their spouses in the last two years.

Besides income, the public officers are supposed to disclose the job status of their spouses, properties, debtors and financial assets and liabilities.

“Those who did not submit their forms by December 30 will have to wait a little bit longer for their salaries,” a civil servant told the Standard.

Sources said that before President William Ruto’s government came into office, most civil servants were not keen on filling in the declaration forms, especially on the spouses segment. However, things have now changed drastically.

The move by the government is backed by the Conflict of Interest Act that was approved by the Cabinet in March last year. It seeks to introduce safeguards against the potential conflict of interest between the private interests of public servants.

“The new law will herald a new dawn in the management of public affairs by introducing strong legal safeguards against real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between the private interests of public servants on one hand and the public interests and their official duties on the other,” the Cabinet said after approving the bill.

According to the Bill sponsored by National Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa, public officers are required to declare their wealth within 30 days of their appointment and once every two years thereafter. Those who fail to make the declarations will be liable to a fine of Sh1 million or two years in prison.

The officers are also supposed to list the nature of debts owed by their spouses, including the name of the debtor and outstanding amounts.

For creditors, the disclosure shall include the description of the outstanding facility, the creditor’s name and address, the security charged on the facility and its location, the total amount of advances and the respective outstanding balance.

According to a template sent the over 923,000 civil and public servants, each officer is required to declare the outstanding school fees balance, loans from friends and dividend payments from saccos as well as cash in banks.

Those who had paid dowries for their spouses or sons are supposed to include it in their wealth declaration forms.

Parents whose children had reached marriage age and had received dowry too are also expected to declare the amounts they received.

They are also supposed to list all their spouses and their details, the rent and monthly bills such as water, they had been paying as well hospital bills.

“State all particulars of your liabilities as at the statement date and attach a separate sheet of the liabilities of your spouses and dependent children under the age of 18 years prepared in the same way,” the declaration form reads in part.

The government officials will also state the amount of livestock, pets like dogs, and horses, assorted household items, jewellery, trophies and artefacts including drawings, paintings, carvings and portraits. 

Once the officer making the declaration has given their basic information such as name and Personal Identification Number, they are then supposed to indicate their gross salary for the last two years.

Besides stating how much one is paid, they are supposed to state the revenue earned from the sale of livestock or agricultural produce, interest on bank deposits, dividends from sacco savings, shares, dowry received, income from other revenue streams such as matatu business cash gifts royalties, damages awarded by courts in civil cases and income from merry go round.

In the event any of the dependents under the age of 18 years has earned an income, this too should be declared in a separate sheet.

Assets such as vehicles, buildings, motor vehicles as well as income-generating activities undertaken by the person making the declaration during the period under review too must be declared.

The public servants are also required to register the ancestral land and the person it is registered under, and to state the income generated from the crops as well as other ways in which one gets income.

Such disclosures will be made for assets and liabilities registered in the name of dependent children.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), under the new guidelines, will be tasked with the enforcement of the disclosures in addition to other provisions of the Act while the law enforcement agencies shall have unrestricted access to the compliance reports made by the public officers.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Murang’a South branch boss John Njata interpreted the move by the government as a scheme to tax civil servants, especially teachers, more as he called on the government to allow teachers to enjoy their side hustles. 

“Majority of the teachers were hesitant to include those details because they feared the information might be used to attract more taxes, especially when they want to tax cows, goats and chickens. Teachers have been heavily taxed and there’s nothing to show. The government should allow teachers to enjoy farming as aside hustle,” Njata said.

Public Service Commission Director of Communications Brown Kutwsa said the wealth declaration forms are supposed to be filled out every two years.

“The forms had been submitted by November 30, last year. If after evaluation there are gaps, the affected officers are supposed to fill in the gaps. Failing to comply with the deadline is actionable,” he said.

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