Let Uhuru make all loan deals public to avoid graft

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting on the sidelines of the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum in Sochi, Russia, on October 24, 2019. He must make sure Kenya avoids economic meltdown. PHOTO | RAMIL SITDIKOV | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Parliamentarians must take the blame for failing in their oversight duties and approving unrealistic budget proposals without question.
  • And President Kenyatta must stay home long enough to ensure the sternest possible measures against all officials liable for economic sabotage.

As President Uhuru Kenyatta continues amassing frequent-flier bonuses, one must wonder whether his globe-trotting is in pursuance of Kenya’s diplomatic, economic and strategic interests or just a way of escaping problems back home.

He barely had time for a change of shirt after the Japan and Russia tours before jetting off again on another foreign tryst.

Once he is safely back on Kenyan terra firma, I would strongly advise that he settle down and deal with urgent matters that need his personal attention.

Kenya is veering dangerously close to economic meltdown. Acting National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani is reportedly shocked at the scale of rot left by Mr Henry Rotich, who had to vacate the office after being hit with criminal charges alongside Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge over the Arror and Kimwarer dam scandals.

Mr Yattani has been candid with MPs while seeking support for emergency measures to restore sanity to fiscal management.

His priorities include scaling down a budget pegged on a political wish list and unravelling a national debt portfolio that is nothing short of a scandal.


I’m not going to go into the numbers, but I understand that Mr Yattani shocked the relevant parliamentary committee with his honest disclosures on the depth of the financial black hole.

Both the National Assembly and Senate committees have previously rubber-stamped Treasury budget proposals with their eyes closed.

They have either been mesmerised by the numbers trotted out or bribed by financing for projects in their constituencies in the good old-fashioned pork barrel politics.

Parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle must take the blame for failing in their oversight duties and approving unrealistic budget proposals without question.

However, some members are beginning to understand how they were blindsided by crooked Treasury mandarins and are prepared to back the tough measures required to get the economy back on track.


What they have to admit openly following briefings by the new broom is that the Treasury had been cooking the books.

Our GDP and economic growth projections have been based on falsified numbers, which, in turn, created the rationale for crazy budget proposals and increased borrowing to cover the deficits.

What has been most shocking is that nobody at the Treasury seems to have exact figures for the national debt.

It is emerging that government borrowing reflects corruption on an industrial scale that make the Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing look puny.

For reasons best known to themselves, Treasury mandarins avoided concessional loans at low interest from multilateral agencies, preferring to take commercial loans at punitive rates.

Such decisions make no sense unless some of the money was finding its way back into people’s pockets.


It also appears that details on some of the loans cannot be found on the official government debt book and are hidden deep inside some confidential registers to keep them away from the prying eyes of auditors.

As he uncovers more of the rot, Mr Yattani must make a public commitment to disclose everything to Parliament and the public.

In turn, President Kenyatta must stay home long enough to ensure the sternest possible measures against all officials liable for economic sabotage.

They must not only face criminal charges, but be forced to repay, tenfold, every shilling lost through their dealings.

Ultimately, however, the President must take measures to ensure mismanagement and theft that have become the trademark of his regime are stopped.

His much-hyped war against corruption has so far shown more bark than bite with no conviction of a substantial economic criminal.


Meanwhile, there are simple administrative measures he can initiate. One is to demand total transparency in all government financial transactions.

He can issue an edict demanding that all government procurement be made public, including the secretive State House and military budgets that allow corruption under cover of national security.

All government borrowing must also be made public and approved by Parliament, and he can set the example by making good on his promise to make available the financing agreement for the standard gauge railway.

Last December, he promised NTV’s Mark Masai that he would release the document, but then reneged on his solemn word.

That was an indication, if any, that there is, indeed, something to hide on the controversial China-funded deal.

The President must also support and shield Mr Yattani, who is making some senior politicians, government bureaucrats and wheeler-dealers around State House pretty nervous.

[email protected]; @MachariaGaitho