Cost of Living Set to Rise as Counties Register High Rates in Corruption

Photo: Treasury Building, Nairobi. Kenya’s external debts currently stands at Ksh. 4.6 trillion. (Image Courtesy)

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission recently released the results of the corruption survey conducted in 2016 in which it highlighted the performing and the most underperforming county governments.

Most of the County bosses, especially those from the underperforming counties, came out and dismissed these results with some claiming to being intimidated politically while others owed the poor performance to their predecessors.

Murang’a County was for instance ranked the most corrupt according to the results of the survey. Governor Mwangi wa Iria rubbished the claims and accused his senator of fighting him politically. His Kirinyaga counterpart Anne Waiguru also dismissed the claims stating that she was not the one in office as at the time the survey was conducted. She went ahead to blame her predecessor and criticised the EACC for not mentioning the leaders who held office when the survey was conducted. Kirinyaga County was ranked fourth in the most corrupt list. Tharaka Nithi, Meru and Trans Nzoia were among the other corrupt counties as indicated by the survey.

This happens at a time when the National Treasury has heeded to the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which will see Kenyans pay higher taxes as from the beginning of the 2018/2019 financial year set for July this year.

According to the IMF demands that were agreed upon in 2015, the government is set to repeal some of the tax exemption areas initially enjoyed by key sectors of the economy. The demands will see the government recover a total of Ksh. 760 million from the agricultural sector, Ksh. 32 billion from the manufacturing sector, Ksh. 2.5 billion from the education sector and a further Ksh. 40 billion from products such as petroleum and others that had initially been exempted from consumer tax among other 29 tax exempt income categories. As per these demands, IMF wants the Kenyan government to fund its budget from tax other than from external borrowing. Kenya has a current debt amounting to Ksh 4.6 trillion.

Whilst financial experts will advice that this is a positive move towards strengthening the Kenyan economy, it should be remembered that a huge chunk of the taxpayer’s money usually, is sent to the county governments to oversee development projects and ensure that Kenyans from across the country enjoy equal infrastructure across all sectors.

As per the 2016 EACC survey on corruption across the 47 counties, majority of them registered high levels of corruption which is an indication that that the taxpayer’s money channelled to these local governments is inappropriately spent.

The Kenyan economy continues to creep, minimal development continues to be registered and a huge chunk of tax paid by citizens continue being lost in graft. The biggest nightmare is that money lost in corruption scandals is never recovered despite the follow ups made by the relevant authorities.
If development is to be achieved, all Kenyan leaders need to ensure that they register high levels of accountability. Legislators should also formulate financial policies that will safeguard taxpayer’s money and ensure that it is used in the rightful manner. Only by this, will Kenya move forward in development.

Accountability and appropriate financial policies remain the ultimate solutions to countering graft and ensuring that the economy becomes and remains stable.

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