While speaking to Reuters two years ago, the Auditor General, Edward Ouko said the country was losing a third of its budget to corruption annually. Going by the recently unveiled Sh 3 trillion budget, Kenyans will lose slightly over Sh 333 billion in the 2018/19 financial year.
The money we expect to lose in this financial year can build us fully fledged National Referral hospitals in all the 45 counties that depend on Kenyatta National Hospital (Nairobi) and Moi Teaching and Referral hospital (Eldoret) at a cost of Sh 2 billion each complete with state of the art cancer treatment centers also at Sh 2 billion each.
And the government will still have enough money to connect 7,500,000 Kenyans with electricity at a cost of Sh 135 billion (by last mile project-phase one estimates); build three Super Highways at cost of Sh 27 billion each and still remain with Sh 500, 000 pocket change.
That’s what corruption is going to rob us this financial year. And there’s little reason to expect otherwise.
The country has already lost circa Sh 23 billion from January to May this year over just four scandals: NYS season II (Sh 9 billion); Hazina Towers (Sh 11.5 billion); Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) Sh 6.3 billion; Kenya Pipeline (Sh 647 million), and the Timber scandal costing the public another Sh 2 billion.
In short, in between January to May this year we lost money that could’ve built 479 state of the art high schools similar to the famous Mbagathi Girls high school in Kibra constituency at the same cost the school was built using the CDF cash. That is opportunity for about 230,000 students who otherwise study in unconducive environments and are likely to fail their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) because of this.
If we were to quantify corruption in terms of lives lost we would run out of space and imagination. Only a few days ago an “unknown” fire razed down poor people’s property and claimed their lives in Gikomba market. The matter hasn’t been investigated conclusively but the people are already being prepared psychologically to move because an “unknown” investor has figured something better to do with that piece of land than the many households eking out a living from it.
And that’s not the first open air market targeted by these forces of corruption. What is sad however is that these land grabbers will get away with it despite the Constitution explicitly affirming to us in Article 1, that all sovereign power belong to the people of Kenya. Since we have delegated this power to Members of Parliament to represent us it behooves them to deliberate on these matters that turn millions into paupers to their logical conclusion so that the Constitution may remain a sacred document.
Nonetheless, considering the cost of corruption, Kenyans shouldn’t shy away from the need to debate another form of government if the current model is failing.
In the meantime, the next time you want treat corruption allegations as political witch hunts or an attack against your community, despite overwhelming evidence, remember we expect to lose Sh 333 billion in the July 2018/ June 2019 financial year. This will happen as the leaders you defend get richer building worthless real estate buildings and go-downs yet expect you to fork out extra money to pay for services your taxes should cater for.
Ponder deeply about the opportunity cost of corruption and how graft is taking us many steps back. It is time Kenyans demand for more transparency and accountability from their elected and appointed public servants. The money collected as tax belongs to you!