Parastatals established to ease government services or implement development programmes sometimes become conduits through which public resources are looted or wasted. A parliamentary watchdog investigating the finances of state corporations has been stunned to learn some do not even exist.
Though the Kenya Sports Authority had been listed among the agencies whose accounts were to be inspected, members of the Public Investment Committee on Social Services, Administration and Agriculture were shocked to note that it does not exist. It happens to be one of the agencies linked to the loss of billions of shillings and for which the MPs have sanctioned 10 Cabinet Secretaries over the breaching of the law on the operation of agencies under their ministries.
The MPs found that Sh4 billion could not be accounted for by the suspect entities. They have indicted 23 agencies for failing to submit financial statements to the Auditor-General.
While the government is struggling to meet its financial obligations, some individuals are lining their pockets and perhaps greasing the palms of top officials in parent ministries.
The other suspect parastatals are the Agricultural Information Resource Centre and the Kenya National Commission for Culture and Social Services.
There is no evidence of the unspent money being returned to the National Exchequer. Only a few of the 400 state corporations are functional.
This sorry development justifies the clamour for parastatal reforms. Unfortunately, successive governments have used positions in management and boards of state firms to reward functionaries and offer a soft landing for poll losers.
Parliament should pursue this matter to its logical conclusion. This calls for a thorough investigation to establish the beneficiaries, penalise them and recover the looted funds.