By Kenya Confidential Transparency Editor – Nairobi, November 25, 2016
Cowboy contractors accumulated billions in inflated Pending Bills on which Moi era Finance Ministers loaded huge commissions that were partly paid in every financial year
Opposition chief Raila Odinga has proposed a new Bill on prompt payment of suppliers to cut off the graft cartels and save vulnerable contractors from “Jubilee extortion”.
What Raila calls “Jubilee Cartels” are civil service cartels inherited from two governments of dictator Daniel arap Moi and his successor Mwai Kibaki in which he served as Cabinet Minister and Prime Minister for over two decades.
Raila said the Prompt Payment Bill 2016 would compel the government to pay all suppliers within 30 days and whittle down the power of public officers on invoices.
“The Bill is in response to a really dire situation confronting those who supply goods and services to the government,” Raila said yesterday.
He failed to reign in Cowboy Contractors responsible for shoddy killer roads during the Moi era after promising to black-list them. The contractors in turn built tarmac roads leading to palatial homes, which they also built for top politicians, in rural areas and the City of Nairobi. Some of the houses were furnished with furniture imported from South Africa and Dubai.
Cowboy contractors accumulated billions in inflated Pending Bills on which Moi era Finance Ministers loaded huge commissions that were partly paid in every financial year leaving balances to attract more bribes the following fiscal year. Most of the same civil servants, some without political linkages, are serving in the Jubilee and County governments.
Raila clearly points out the civil service-driven corruption saying; “The power exercised by public officers over the settlement of invoices is currently absolute and has resulted in businessmen being blackmailed into paying royalties on every pending payment due to them. Every signature required to approve payment is a toll station.”
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The Cord supremo spoke amid an outcry by over 200 suppliers owed over Ksh 1.5 billion by the Kenyatta International Convention Centre for contracts and supplies during the World Trade Organisation meeting last December.
Two weeks ago, the suppliers wrote a lengthy letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta, seeking his intervention and lifting the lid on what they said is an entrenched graft network in the management of the iconic conference centre.
In an emotional letter, the suppliers said they face financial ruin, as banks go after their property.
Yesterday, Raila said tens of suppliers are being harassed and have been reported to the Credit Reference Bureau by the banks from which they borrowed money to finance government tenders.
According to Raila, the Bill sponsored by ODM in Parliament is among steps his party is taking to tame runaway graft without waiting for President Uhuru Kenyatta. He appears to be a voluntary hostage of corruption hydra running through the Office of the President to all ministries.
Uhuru has ignored or refused to respond to a proposal by Citizens Against Corruption handed to State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu for onward transmission on October 18, 2016, the day the Anti-Corruption and Governance Summit, which was a major fiasco for the president. Citizens Against Corruption is a lobby by veteran journalists with proven expertise in communications, teaching, branding and investigative experience.
State House sources say the President was advised early in his presidency not to pay any attention from Kenyans aged 50 years and beyond, yet the youths hired under his watch are now busy undoing his government at break-neck speed.
No wonder Raila brags, “I told Kenyans we need to take control of our destiny as we did in the major reforms that have been achieved in Kenya. I remind our people that there is no change that we have achieved in this country because the government gave it to us.”
Raila however, appears to have two scales by which to measure corruption in Central government and County government of which his Cord-ODM has a majority of 24 out of 47 counties. He has very little or nothing to say about his Counties rampant corruption but lumps abundant daily scorn on Jubilee on behalf of the Central government.
He praised Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi as a whistle blower over a billion shillings corruption but condemned former devolution and youth affairs cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru as a culprit when she blew the whistle on National Youth Service Ksh 971 million Corruption that has escalated to Ksh 1.3 billion and over 25 suspects charged.
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Raila’s new law seeks to make it mandatory that all questions about an invoice must be raised within 30 days and communicated to the supplier. The Bill also states that such queries shall be resolved within 10 days from the date they are raised and the resolution communicated to the supplier.
Every public authority that is procuring, the Bill states, shall establish an internal appeals system to review all decisions made not to settle an invoice.
“A supplier in respect of whom a decision not to pay has been communicated shall have a right to demand the internal appeal mechanism to review the decision not to pay,” Raila told the press.
In the Bill, ODM proposes that all internal appeals mechanism must be reached within 10 days from the day they are submitted by the supplier for review.
The Bill also proposes the establishment of a Public Invoices Settlement Tribunal to hear appeals from any decision made by internal appeals mechanism of any public authority not to pay invoices.
“A supplier whose appeal to the Tribunal is dismissed shall have recourse to the Court of Appeal on a final appeal,” Raila says of his proposed Bill.
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is the next most likely institution to explode with multi-billion-shilling scandal. Pending bills have continued to pend without respite despite President Uhuru’s directive. Some victims have been evicted from rental houses and forced to sell office furniture and equipment to provide food and temporary shelter to their families.
One such victim had his family locked up in the rental house for two days. He has been waiting to see the Permanent secretary for the last two months.
Initial reports say millions upon millions have been sunk into highly inflated water dams, boreholes and irrigations schemes without consideration to value for money except to inflate corrupt public officers bank accounts.