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ELECTION 2022

Speed up probe on embezzled funds from counties in Kenya

OPINION
By Fred Waga | Nov 20th 2016 | 2 min read

Investigations into the loss of public funds in Kilifi County have added to the growing list of corruption case files before the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC). As the week wound down, there were conflicting reports about the amount of money siphoned off the county’s accounts following the manipulation of the Integrated Management Financial Information System (Ifmis).

The EACC and the Kilifi County administration scaled down the amount of money lost from the initially reported Sh1.8 billion to Sh51 million, but because investigations have not been concluded, the mystery surrounding the theft of these funds has not been solved.

With the slow pace of investigations touching on other mega financial scandals in the National Youth Service, the Health ministry, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, and the mishandling of the Eurobond, public skepticism over the political will to effectively tackle corruption is rising.

Not surprisingly, the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has expressed its impatience with the inability of designated State agencies to demonstrate that progress has been made in sealing corruption loopholes. On this point, we agree with PAC — the EACC, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Judiciary must speed up activities within their control to ensure the message that corruption does not pay goes out loud and clear.

The slow pace of investigations, the dearth of convictions in corruption-related offences, and the divisive political posturing on matters graft do not inspire public confidence. Ultimately, the Jubilee administration will have to convince Kenyans that it is doing enough to tackle high level graft and is winning the battle in stopping the plunder of State resources. If it does not, it will have to reckon with voters at the ballot in the next General Election.

In the interim, the EACC must follow through on its proposal to the National Treasury to review the Ifmis system and plug the loopholes that allow public officers to illegally transfer funds to private bank accounts. One would have expected that with theft of Sh800 million from the NYS several months ago, this exercise would have been activated much earlier.

Let this IFMIS review not be a public relations exercise to mollify Kenyans. It should be an exercise that is designed to save tax payers money. But ultimately, administrative solutions will not be enough to tackle graft. Without seeming to over simply a complex problem, it will require the joint effort by multiple agencies, public fortitude and political will to yield results.

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