State of the Nation Address (Part 2): Let’s Take a Look at Those Statistics

Posted by on 22nd April 2014

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Kenya’s First Lady’s historic London Marathon run after barely six months training is a great shot in the arm for the child and maternal health sector; unfortunately, the President’s record after a year in office is not as illustrious.

For instance, with regards to progress in the health sector the President referenced his declaration of free maternal health care in all public hospital and the positive outcomes stemming from this initiative stating, “Before we came to power, we had already pledged to bring free health care to every expectant mother in the nation…trained medical staff in our facilities now attend to 66% of our deliveries, up from 44% barely a year ago.”

That’s a 22% increase, the statistic could simply indicate that more expectant mothers attended public hospitals as a result of the declaration. The statistic says nothing about the quality of service received or whether the move has resulted in the drop in maternal and child mortality rates. It would be great to know if the declaration was accompanied by a commensurate budgetary and human resources allocation.

Initial stories on the uptake of the free maternal health care service indicate otherwise. In fact they show that public hospitals have neither the staff nor the equipment to accommodate the increased demand. A situation that is likely to worsen if medical staff in public hospitals follow through with threats to strike over working conditions and salaries.

Making reference to the Jubilee administration’s promise to resettle all IDPs by the end of 2013 the President stated: “In September 2013 the government began the implementation of the cash payment programme for all IDPs that had not been resettled so far, a total of 8298 households. A total of 777 have received cash payments of Kshs. 400,000 per household total, totalling Kshs. 3.3 billion”

It is unclear whether this statement refers only to the 500,000 displaced from the 2007/2008 post-election violence or all IDPs i.e. the Mau Forest Evictees, PEV IDPs, Coast and Nyanza IDPs, squatters etc. If the statement refers to the latter then the statement may not be at all accurate, as several IDPs still remain in camps, informal settlements and in other areas where they stay displaced from their homes. The statement also obscures the fact that several PEV IDPs claimed they are yet to receive the funds as stated.

With regards to affirmative action the President referenced the setting aside of 30% of government tenders for youth, women and persons with disabilities. Again the statistics given say little about whether this is actually being implemented or if there has been any uptake of the government tenders by the said groups.

The President further stated a third of that the membership of the, “cabinet, senate and county assemblies are now women.” Although, the statistic on the women in the senate is true; it obscures the fact, none of the women in the Senate were elected and cannot cast votes when it on matters to do with counties. There is no woman governor in any of the 47 counties, and there are only 9 women’s deputy governors. In addition, there are counties in which there isn’t a single woman elected as a Member of the County Assembly.

While the President gave no specific statistics on the cost of living, he did make some statements which bare analysis. For instance he stated, “Recognising the need to contain the cost of living, and to improve the competitiveness of our economy, my government instituted measures and initiatives that will doubtlessly lead to a significant reduction of the cost of goods and services…We already have some results to show the price of basic commodities such as fuel, sugar and cooking fats were actually lower in February this year than they were in February 2013.” This whole statement begs a fact check, is the price of basic commodities (maize meal, sugar, wheat flour, oil, milk, and bread) lower now than it was in February 2013? What’s your take?

On Security, Corruption and Terror Attacks

Posted by on 4th April 2014

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Shortly after the Westgate Attack, making the link between corruption and the increase in terrorism in the Guardian article ‘Kenya: behind the terror is rampant corruption,’ Giles Foden wrote:

 “In Kenya crime and terrorism are deeply linked, not least by the failure of successive Kenyan governments to control either….These attacks are part of a spectrum of banditry, with corruption at one end, terrorism at the other, and regular robbery in the middle. Some Kenyans will feel that the conditions in which the attacks have happened have arisen because of economic growth in a vacuum of governance. Money that should have been spent on security and other aspects of national infrastructure has been disappearing for generations.”

At the time, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed responded with an article of her own denying the link between corruption and the Westgate terror attack titled, ‘Kenya terror attack: corruption wasn’t to blame.’ With the recent terror attacks in Eastleigh the link between corruption and the country’s increased vulnerability to terrorism is one that needs to not only acknowledged but addressed as well.

In the very recent past the President in his State of the Nation address and in subsequent statements has echoed sentiments that appeared in the first Guardian article.

In his State of the Nation address the President while promising that his administration would make added investments in the security sector, the President urged Kenyans to remember that some of the difficulties experienced with were due to three decades of under investment. In another statement the President, highlighted corruption as a major barrier to the implementation of the Prevention of Terrorism Law passed in 2012.

The link between corruption and the country’s susceptibility to is also recognised in the Parliamentary Report on the Inquiry into the Westgate and other attacks in Mandera in North Eastern and Kilifi in the Coastal Region. The report mentions systemic corruption and the link to terror attack stating:

“Corruption has greatly led to the vulnerability of the country in many cases including where immigration officials are compromised thus permitting ‘aliens’ who could be terrorists to enter the country and acquire identification. This enables terrorists ease of movement and are therefore able to plan and execute attacks without the fear of discovery. Further compromising of security officials enables ‘suspected individuals’ to fail to pursue suspected terrorists and enable them to secure early release when caught or reported in suspicious criminal activities.”

Of the link between Kenyan troops in Somalia and the increase in terror attacks in the country the report states, “It should also be interrogated why other countries such as Ethiopia and Burundi who had earlier sent troops to Somalia have not been attacked by the al-shaabab. Tanzania has also not suffered any terrorist attacks after the 1998 bombings. Is it because our security forces are weak, in-disciplined and easily corruptible?”

The report makes further note of nationwide systemic failure on the part of the Immigration Services Department, Department of Refugee Affairs; and Registration of Persons Department, also “rampant corruption by security officers and other government agents,” and  further that, “police officers are corrupt and lax too. They work in cahoots with alShabaab and are paid to pass information to the latter.”

Last week National Assembly rejected the Joint Committees report and the recommendations made therein. However questions and issues in the report raised with regards to the link between corruption and terrorism still remain.

In the face of security challenges reported over the past couple of weeks, what measures would you like the government to undertake to check corruption which opens doors to security lapses?

On the President’s State of the Nation Address (Part 1)

Posted by on 1st April 2014

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Last week the President gave his second State of the Nation speech. A speech he is constitutionally required to give every year for the term of his Presidency. However if one was expecting this year’s speech to be a marker of the administration’s progress in achieving the goals and promises made in both its manifesto and during last year’s speech they were sorely disappointed.  The speech barely made reference to the administrations manifesto, or to promises made by the President in his last speech to the Nation. The President did touch on important issues i.e. devolution, corruption, security, the wage bill, but it was hard to pin point concrete points of action with regards to resolving the issues.

On devolution the President stated:

“My government has kept faith with our people’s momentous choice by establishing a fully-fledged two-tier state: 47 counties that complement the national administration. All are now operational, disproving the doubts of the faint-hearted.”

While the statement is true as regards the establishment of a two tier state, questions remain about how operational the counties are? While a two tier government has been established, several problems still exist, with the two tiers jostling for supremacy and funds including calls by some MPs to scrap the two tier systems.

With regards to corruption the President stated:

 “It remains a hard truth that some of our public services are rife with waste and corruption. That waste threatens the productivity we have so painfully begun to build. I have appointed a Cabinet Committee to return us to prudence and probity in public service. The team has already issued a preliminary report, and soon I will give detailed attention to the proposed measures. I also wish to highlight the over-arching theme that government spending must be brought under control.”

Given rampant corruption particularly involving government tenders in which several Ministries have been implicated i.e. the trillion shilling Standard Gauge Railway project, the procurement of laptops scandal, a saga for which the National Assembly has threatened to censure the Cabinet Secretary it is surprising that corruption was only mentioned twice in the President’s speech.

And while it was great that the President recognised corruption is rife in public services, he failed to mention that this corruption extends to the top tiers of government. With regards to the Cabinet Committee, it is difficult to see how there is not a conflict of interest between having a Cabinet Committee comprised of members whose Ministries may be implicated in corruption scandals. The President made no mention of empowering the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), nor was there mention of punitive measures to be taken against those implicated in corruption scandals. Nor did he state how the Cabinet Committee would interact with the EACC, the body actually mandated to investigate corruption.

The President also mentioned the wage bill, though it seemed mostly in passing stating:

“That effort in rationalisation of recurrent expenditure requires attention to our wage bill. It is my wish to encourage public discourse on this matter. Equally importantly, some of our leaders have shown themselves willing to lead by example. My Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries have accepted a 10% pay cut. The Deputy President joined me in taking a 20% pay cut.”

It is possible that the President said very little about the wage bill because he had mentioned the issue on the heels of the Cabinet retreat. However in a discussion on the wage bill it is difficult to see how the President remained silent on the constitutional body mandated to review State Officers salaries and its role in regulating salaries of state officers. It is also awkward that the President would highlight leaders showing themselves willing to lead on the issue of lowering the wage by example when the very same leaders have continually thwarted Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s efforts to regulate the salaries.

Security took up a large portion of the State of the Nation speech. The President mentioned security 13 times during his speech, no surprise given the recent terrorist attack on Westgate, the insecurity in North Eastern Kenya, the insecurity in Western Kenya, the on-going internal conflict in the countries Coastal region, the list is seemingly endless and that before mention of the crime rates, however security goals seemed mostly aspirational than anything else. In his speech the President mentioned that in 2013 violent crime fell by 8% it would be interesting to know from where this statistic comes, is it for the whole country or for a certain part of the country.

What are your thoughts on the President’s State of Nation Speech?

Of Inflated Tenders and the Billions of Shillings of Cost to Kenyans

Posted by on 20th March 2014

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It is laudable that the government is finally taking steps to reduce the wage bill and while the outcome of the efforts remains to be seen, it would be great if concrete steps were alsotaken towards correcting government inefficiencies particularly when it comes to the tendering process.

Recently there have been a slew of reports on the inefficienciesin the tendering process and the resultant losses, for instance:

The Public Procurement Administration Review Board found that the laptop tender price had been inflated by 1.4 billion shillings:

“Initially Olive had quoted US $ 268,899,669 or Sh24,286,711,335/50, but when the tender was awarded, Education Secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, announced a sum of US $ 284,899,669”

According to reports the laptop tender was a five stage process(1) Technical Evaluation (2) Financial Evaluation, (3) Best & Final Offer Negotiation, (4) Best & Final Offer Financial Opening and (5) Due Diligence stages. It is alarming that in none of these stages was the error caught. It leads to the question of whether the any of the bodies that were involved in the process are fit forthe purpose.

Then there’s the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Kenya’s biggest infrastructural project today and one in which Kenyan tax payers could lose billions if the inefficiencies continue:

“The total cost rose from the initial 220,921,502.08 quoted by the China and Bridge Corporation in its acceptance of the tender award letter dated July 2012 to the current 1.3 trillion” the Standard reported.

The paper further reported that Public Procurement Oversight Authority has been unsuccessful in its attempts to seek answersabout the discrepancies from the Ministry of Transport. This is aside from the fact that in the course of its investigations the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee found thatthere are two companies registered under the name China Road and Bridge Corporation the Chinese one and Kenyan one.

There’s also the recently reported loss of the 4billion shillings from National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) fund to which Kenyans directly contribute a portion of their income.

According to the Auditor General NHIF incurred cost of the 3.9 billion shillings that cannot be justified after the tender for a multi storey parking lot was inflated from 9 million to 3.9 billion. Meanwhile NSSF made an investment in land which turns out is reserved land (something which one thinks should have been uncovered by a search at the lands office). Read the full story here.

The government response to the inefficacies is disappointing to say the least. Despite glaring discrepancies in the SGR tender process the President has declared that the SGR tender was above board and the project must go on. The Parliamentary Committee has said that it will censure Education CS Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, in response the Education CS has dismissed calls for him to resign over the scandal.

Unless these inefficiencies are corrected taxpayers will continue to lose billions.


On the Salary Cuts for the President, Deputy President and Others

Posted by on 13th March 2014

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The Cabinet is back from its one week retreat, and if the President’s speech is any indication dealing with the country’s public wage bill is high on the government’s agenda.

Unless you live under a rock it’s likely that you know or have heard, that two of the highest paid public sector workers (the President and the Deputy President) will be taking a 20% wage cut, the Cabinet will also be taking 10% pay cut all effective immediately.

It seems that since the President’s speech, the offers to take salary cuts are coming in droves: Senator Kithure Kindiki has stated that he is ready to take a 30% salary cut, and proposed that the commissioners and their deputies take similar cuts. Majority Leader, Aden Duale, has stated that he is willing to take a 15% pay cut should the National Assembly  fail to pass bill to reduce the salaries of parliamentarians, he has also suggested  reducing the number the number of constitutional commissions as well as salary cuts for those who sit on those commissions.

The Majority Leader has also stated the National Assembly would be willing to meet with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to discuss the issue of the public sector wage bill.

However all this talk of salary cuts seems populist and amnesiac at best, and at worst an ineffective way of the dealing with the public sector wage bill.

Populist because State Officers salaries and particularly MPs salaries have been sticking point for most of the Kenyan public for several administrations, and a 20% pay cut in the salaries of the highest earning state officers seems a bit like a public relations stunt as it is unlikely to make a significant dent in the public sector wage bill. Let’s assume that the President earns a salary of 2 million shillings per month a 20% pay cut is only 400,000 shillings hardly likely to make a dent in a wage bill that costs the country and tax payers billions of shillings annually.

Amnesiac because at the beginning of this administration the Salaries and Remuneration Commission made and gazetted salary cuts for state officers. State Officers then fought the salary cut tooth and nail and in the end salaries for all State Officers including those at county level was well above the SRC recommendations. Also it seems this move seems to forget that there is a Commission mandated to determine and review the salaries of all State Officers and the National Assembly has been trying to disband this body for its stance on salaries.

The salary cut declarations may be an ineffective way of dealing with the public wage bill. For one these declarations fail to address the issue of untaxed allowances which form a large part of the public wage bill. The salary cut declarations are neither legislated nor institutionalised so what’s to say they will be followed? Further the declarations do little to empower the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the body constitutionally mandated to review determine salaries of State officers, and makes it seem like state officers are doing Kenyans a favour by agreeing to salary cuts, when that is clearly not the case.

The National Assembly Queries the Rising Public Wage Bill Finally

Posted by on 11th March 2014

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According to a report in the Business Daily, “Parliament has questioned a Sh32.7 billion increase in public wages and benefits despite devolution of several functions and shifting of personnel to counties. The Budget and Appropriation Committee has asked the Treasury to explain its projection that the wage bill will rise from Sh263 billion to Sh295.7 billion in the financial year starting July 2013, a 12.4 per cent rise.”

While it is a welcome move that the National Assembly is finally questioning the public wage bill, it seems that National Assembly is a bit late to the gate.

It’s a well known fact that between the last administration and this one there has been a speedy growth of the public wage. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has attributed the rise of the wage bill to not only the added layers of the government introduced by the devolved system, but also to the increase in a salaries, as well the substantial allowances paid out by government.

According to the Commission, “Kenya’s total wage bill in the public sector has continued to increase in nominal terms…due to an increase in the number of employees as well as an increase in the average wage. A significant amount of employee compensation is in allowances such as: personal allowance, hardship allowance, entertainment allowance and risks allowances. The Kenyan average annual growth rate in wage bill over the last three years is about 13% (for 2012/13 alone, the increase was by 30%), well above the nominal GDP growth of about 4% and population growth rate of about 3%.”

The National Treasury reports the country’s wage bill as being 12% of GDP, the ratio of recurrent expenditure to the total budget is 69%. The public sector wage bill, as at 30th June, 2013, was about 12%, which is higher than the internationally desirable level of not more than 7% and government target of not more than 8%. The Central Government wage bill as a share of GDP is estimated to be 7.8% compared to 6.5% for Africa which is also the government target while the Central Government wage bill took about 35% of Government total revenue and with a debt service of about 17.2% leaving less than 48% of the total revenue for other operations.

Looking at these figures I am sure Kenyans wonder whether the millions of funded posts in the public sector and the rise in their wages over the past few years is being matched by productivity increases.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has been warning the government about the country’s unsustainable wage bill ever since it was first established.  Lowering the country’s wage bill was also one of the Jubilee coalition’s flagship campaign promises, as well as a focus of the President’s national address in 2013. So it would be great to see more concrete steps towards this.

The fact is that if the public wage continues to rise it will not only be unsustainable but it will definitely begin to crowd out other important forms of government expenditure, infrastructural development and essential services i.e. education, health care.

How do we Evaluate Performance of Senators and MPs?

Posted by on 3rd March 2014

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Combined the National Assembly and Senate has over 400 members that cost the country billions of shillings in wages annually. The representatives that sit in both Houses are supposed to ensure responsiveness and accountability of government to citizens by conducting open debate on government policy, legislation, finances, and representing citizens’ views in Parliament.

But how well are our representatives in the National Assembly and Senate performing? How do we evaluate the quality of a single member of parliament/senator/or party? Is there a way to know who is a good Parliamentarian or Senator, is it through attendance, participation or innovation?

While it is difficult to measure the quality of a single Member of Parliament, oral statements made on the floor of the House are an important performance measure for both MPs and Senators. Citizens can use the number of oral statements made on the floor of National Assembly or Senate to tell whether or not their elected representative is participating in policy and legislative discussions.

Last year Parliament was in session for a total of 29 weeks, Mzalendo has gathered data from the Hansards (National Assembly and Senate) and analysed the verbal presence of parliamentarians to find out the top performing representatives in the both Houses, using a simple quantitative metric  – the total number of times the Member of Parliament or spoke on the floor as indicated by the Hansard.

Unsurprisingly the two biggest party coalitions – Jubilee Coalition and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy – lead political debate in the both Senate and the National Assembly. Aden Duale, and James Kembi Gitura were the most active representatives in the National Assembly and Senate respectively. More surprising and disappointing is the that analysis indicates that between March and December 2013 shows that one third of MPs contributed to debated on the floor less than ten times, not a great indicator of participation, but does it mean that a third of parliament should be cut?

It should be noted that the metric only measures the number of the times the MPs or Senators spoke in parliament rather than the quality of what they said. Consequently several questions remain i.e. did the MP or Senator make valuable comments? Are the MPs and Senators speaking on issues important to their constituents? Is the MP delivering on campaign promises?

The Impeachment of a Governor: A New Era of Accountability?

Posted by on 20th February 2014

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The conditions for removal of Governors are stipulated in Article 181 of the constitution; the article states that governors may be removed from office for, gross violations of the constitution and laws; where there are serious reasons for believing the county governor has committed a crime under national or international law; gross misconduct, abuse of office and/or physical or mental incapacity that prevents him/her from performing the duties of a governor.

Less than a year since governors were elected the members of Embu County Assembly have successfully managed to invoke the Article to remove their Governor from office.  This was the first ever instance of impeachment proceedings in the history of the Republic of Kenya; and the first process of this nature under the constitution.  The removal of a governor from office is significant as for what is says about accountability, checks and balances within the new devolved systems, and the potential impact it could have for holding State officers accountable at all levels of government.

Procedurally after the Speaker of the Senate received the notice for removal the Governor and Deputy Governor from the County Assembly, he convened a meeting of the Senate to hear the charges against the governor.  The Senate convened a Special Sitting the 4th February, 2014 and a motion for Removal of the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Embu County passed. The Motion led to the formation a Special Committee whose mandate was to investigate the proposed removal  the Governor and Deputy Governor of Embu County and to report to the Senate on whether the allegations against the two to have been substantiated.

Last week the Committee found that, “there were procurement irregularities and malpractices and outright violation of the relevant laws,” by the Governor, specifically violations of constitution Public procurement Act Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 and the Public Finance Management Act. The in the summary of its report to the Senate the Special Committee stated that:

While primary liability for violations of procurement laws may lie with individual officers, Article 73 of the Constitution which provides for the responsibility of leadership as read with Article 179 of the Constitution and Section 33 (f) of the County Governments Act, 2012, lead to the conclusion that the Governor will be held liable for violations that occurred during his watch and in respect of which he or she does not take any action.” The Committee also reported that, “the Auditor-General also convinced the Committee that the attempt by the Governor to shift blame to subordinates could not hold even if those subordinates were the accounting officers, because finally, the buck not only stops at the doorstep of the Governor, but the Constitution expects the Governor to be alive to the running of the county and to ensure that he has systems in place that monitor those accounting officers to his satisfaction. This is something which the Governor said: I do not know, it was not me, I did not have to know. Then we wondered why he is in that office. Mr. Speaker, Sir, for that reason, this House will be helping Governor Martin Nyaga Wambora by saving him the trouble and pain of having to be in a office where he has no idea what is going on. This office will give him high blood pressure and ulcers for nothing. Instead you will be giving him preventive treatment.” (Senate Hansard 14.2.2014)

Could this finding of the Senate against the Governor spell the end of buck passing by State Officers in leadership positions? It would certainly be timely given the number of procurement scandals happening at the moment. In an unsurprising move and possibly in effort to curb future impeachments Governors have asked the Supreme for an advisory opinion on whether the Senate has the mandate to summon them over county finances.

Parliament vs. the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Again

Posted by on 19th February 2014

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Following the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s downward review of the MPs salaries last year (a welcome move given how much MPs are paid, as well as country’s public wage bill that grew in leaps and abounds with the addition of the new governmental structures) MPs engaged the Commission in a battle over salaries that seemed to take up most of 2013’s legislative agenda.

Member of the National Assembly, Mithika Linturi, filed a motion that sought to remove the SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem and her team for refusing to review the new pay structure and accused the SRC of discriminating against members of parliament, governors, county and women representatives.

Members of the National Assembly also attempted to have legislation amended to have their positions excluded from the definition of State Officers. The intention of the amendment was that the Members of the National Assembly would no longer be State Officers thus avoiding the requirement that their salaries be set and regulated by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Eventually the Members of the National Assembly won the battle when members of the National Assembly voted to increase their salaries adopting a report that recommended the legal notice reducing their salaries be revoked.

At the time the Speaker of the National Assembly was quoted as stating that the move by the National Assembly to increase salaries of members was a correction of “an illegality” done by the SRC. The Speaker insisted that the SRC had violated the law. The Speaker was quoted as stating that, “It [was] the constitutional role of Parliament to make and change laws.” that “Parliament cannot be directed by any organ other than itself and the Constitution.”

At the time the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) released a statement condemning the move and stating“It is important to note that the demand for an independent body to set the salaries and benefits of State officers arose from a concern that conflicts of interest were inevitable when institutions in the public service were setting salaries, benefits and remuneration for themselves and staff of peer institutions.” The CIC condemned the call for the disbandment of the SRC stating further that “IT IS IMPORTANT TO REALISE THAT SRC IS NOT REQUIRED BY THE CONSTITUTION TO GAZETTE THE SALARIES AND BENEFITS OF STATE OFFICERS TO MAKE THEM EFFECTIVE, SRC JUST CHOSE THE MODE OF GAZETTMENT IN GOOD FAITH FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION. Quashing the gazette notices is therefore of no effect as the new salaries and benefits are already set and communicated to the institutions responsible for paying salaries and benefits. Furthermore the National Assembly Remuneration Act cannot be the basis of paying MPs salaries and benefits since under Article 2(4) it is void to the extent that it is inconsistent with Article 230(1) of the constitution.”

Last week a three-judge bench of the High Court ruled that the National Assembly over stepped in the revoking the gazette notice reviewing the salaries downward, and the further that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission is the only body mandated to set salaries of State Officers, Members of the National Assembly included.

So far MPs have not responded to the High Court ruling, however the House is back from recess, the big question is whether or not the National Assembly will comply with Court’s ruling.

On the Tendering Process and the Need for Transparency

Posted by on 18th February 2014

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How much do we really know about the country’s public procurement process?

Chapter 12 of Constitution on public finance commits the government to transparency; efficiency and cost effectiveness as far as use of public funds is concerned. Article 227 (1) that specifically addresses public procurement states that:

“When a State organ or any other public entity contracts for goods or services, it shall do so in accordance with a system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.”

Given the recent procurement scandals one wonders to what extent the constitutional provisions and pursuant legislation is actually being followed. It seems that recently there have been an unprecedented number of procurement related scandals.

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Tassia project which was initially priced at Sh.4.6 billion and moved to Sh.5.033, an almost million dollar increase is currently being investigated by the National Assembly’s Labour and Social Welfare Committee as well as the Public Investment Committee.

The press reports that, “Director Jacqueline Mugo, who sits on the NSSF Board, told the Public Investment Committee of Parliament…that the Sh5 billion tender awarded to a Chinese company to construct access roads and other infrastructure in Tassia was done without the knowledge of the board.”

Recently the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered the arrest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya for abuse of office for controversially awarding a Sh1.2 billion software security contract to a British firm. The Nation reported that process led to the loss of more than Sh400 million of public funds. The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission recommend that the CBK governor and other bank officials be charged for failing to comply with public-procurement rules.

Parliament is also investigating whether procurement procedures were followed in awarding of the tender for the supply of laptops for standard one pupils. The project is quoted as being worth Sh22 billion for the supply of 1.3 million laptops for standard one pupils, and 20,637 laptops for teachers and an equivalent number of projectors and printers. The National Assembly’s Education Committee has requested that the process be stopped while the Committee ascertains that due diligence was performed in the award of the tender.

Then of course there is, the Sh327 billion Standard Gauge Railway, the country biggest infrastructural investment, currently being probed by the Public Investment Committee (PIC) as well as the Departmental Committee on Transport.

It seems that despite the existence of the constitutional requirement for transparency in public procurement processes, the pursuant legislation, and bodies created to ensure accountability, it seems that public procurement procedures used in the infrastructural development remain vague and opaque. One wonders if this is deliberately so. Multi billion infrastructural and development projects do offer multiple opportunities for misappropriation of funds.

What are we not being told? Can we be told what the tendering process was? Was it advertised? How many people applied? Why was the person who won the tender? It will be interesting to see what the National Assembly committees investigating the scandals recommend and whether their recommendations will improve the overall transparency in public procurement.