Nairobi among counties tampering with revenue collection to steal

Johnson Sakaja

Nairobi County Governor Johnson Sakaja during a past media briefing at City Hall.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • EACC says senior officials in the devolved units are using the revenue collection system to divert county revenues by colluding with service providers, resulting in the loss of billions of shillings.
  • Other counties singled out by the anti-corruption watchdog includes Narok, Kajiado, Machakos, and Kilifi.

Nairobi under Governor Johnson Sakaja is among the counties on the radar of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over reports of hijacking of the revenue collection system to divert revenue for possible theft.

Other counties singled out by the anti-corruption watchdog include Narok under Governor Patrick Ntutu, Kajiado under Joseph Ole Lenku, Machakos under Governor Wavinya Ndeti, and Kilifi under Gideon Mung'aro.

In a statement, the EACC said senior officials in the devolved units are using the revenue collection system to divert county revenues by colluding with service providers, resulting in the loss of billions of shillings.

In some counties, the commission said, private service providers have total control over revenue management systems, making it difficult for county governments to ensure accountability.

According to the Commission, senior county officials also have access to super-user rights on the automated systems, with the power to delete and edit the amount of revenue collected, leading to diversion of revenue.

Some counties also lack mechanisms to reconcile revenue management systems in cases where the county has different service providers.

"As a result, many county governments are unable to meet their revenue targets, with some performing worse in revenue collection than even the local authorities that existed before them. Others have stagnated at the same level despite increased revenue streams," the EACC said in the statement.

The commission has encouraged counties to audit the revenue system to address some of the problems identified.

"It is a new trend we are witnessing in the devolved units where there is collusion to steal public resources.

They are doing this because it is a safe way to steal resources and it is not easy to detect. Some counties have parallel revenue management systems while others have diverted funds to personal accounts of individuals," EACC spokesperson Eric Ngumbi told Nation.Africa.

The revelation comes days after Nairobi City County representatives set up a 13-member ad hoc committee to investigate the county government over poor revenue collection.

Led by Majority Leader Peter Imwatok, the MCAs said the committee would look into the existing loopholes being exploited by unscrupulous individuals in the county government to siphon off county funds and recommend appropriate corrective measures.

Previous City Hall administrations, such as that of former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, have been accused of colluding with then service provider Jambo Pay in revenue collection.

Although City Hall collects millions of shillings in revenue every day, the Nairobi City County government has not taken control of the revenue collection system. The system was handed over to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in 2020.

Last year, senior finance and ICT officials told county representatives investigating the issue that the systems were hosted at an unknown location.

They told the ICT committee, chaired by Kawangware MCA Fredrick Njogu, that the council has user access to the revenue collection system, while the KRA has administrative rights.

As a user, the council can only see the amount of money collected on a daily basis, but does not know how or where the collection system is located.

Despite the lack of access to the system, Mr Sakaja said the county had increased its revenue collection, with the latest revenue collection for the 2022/2023 financial year, which ended in July, standing at Sh10.6 billion.

This is the highest revenue collection recorded in the last five years. Prior to that, the highest revenue collection was Sh12.1 billion recorded in 2015/2016.

City Hall has also established the Nairobi City County Revenue Authority, headed by Andrew Chege, to improve revenue collection.