Ukur Yattani, AG sued over Kenya's debt

Ukur Yattani

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani during the launch of the budget preparation making processat KICC on September 12, 2019.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) and the Institute of Social Accountability-Kenya have sued the Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani and the Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to compel the two State entities to produce information on Kenya’s debt.

They also want the government to provide the details of the debts’ treaties, agreements and contracts signed between Kenya and other States and International financial institutions or corporations.

With rising concerns raised by Kenyans over the increased borrowing that has seen the National Assembly increase the borrowing ceiling to a record Sh9 trillion with fresh plans to further extend it to Sh13 trillion.  

The civil societies opted to go to the High court after their request for the aforementioned information through a letter dated February 7 was ignored.

“Despite constitutional and legal provisions that require public disclosure of all aspects of public borrowing, the National Executive continues to operate in an opaque and shadowy manner,” the lobby groups said.

By refusing to involve Kenyans and sharing with them the details of the domestic and international loans, the government has flouted several constitutional provisions, the civil societies argue.

Article 35 of the constitution decrees that every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State whereas Article 201 (a) states that there shall be openness and accountability in including public participation in public financial matters.

Additionally, the Access to Information Act obligates public entities to publish on their websites or other suitable media any contracts they have signed while Article 10 of the constitution obligates that any treaties ratified by Kenya must be publicly available as items of domestic law.

“The principle of public participation is assaulted when the State denies the public information through which they can meaningfully participate,” the lobby groups stated.

The activists faulted how the National Treasury CS continues to borrow in the name of the Republic of Kenya without being accountable to the public and without making public the documents related to the borrowing to the public. They questioned the government for continually borrowing despite an uproar among Kenyans concerned by the ever increasing cost of living.

“The obligation to make publicly available these documents to the public is paramount since it is a constitutional and democratic requirement for citizens to engage actively and meaningfully on public finance and debt matters,” the civil societies said.


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