BY BETTY NJOROGE
I have a friend still in university who shared with me what he calls a â€œWhat the â€¦?â€ moment. It turns out that they had to get KRA pins when they joined university but since receiving the KRA pin, they had not filed any tax returns. Now, they are students so KRA would have expected them to file returns stating that they had earned no income in the past year.
Unfortunately, no one told these students that they had to file returns, in lieu of which they would end up paying a penalty fee of 1200kshs for each year they did not file their returns. So when his pal tried to apply for a job he discovered he had accrued penalties of over 10,000kshs which he had to pay in order to get a clearance certificate. What theâ€¦?
If our own students, young as they are have to file tax returns and be accountable to the Kenya Revenue Authorities, it just boggles the mind for the Auditor General to casually state that the government cannot account for its assets or liabilities because ministry officials did not keep proper accounts. Excuse me? Yes, the Kenya government, at 50 years old, ‘Jubilated’ no less, cannot account for its assets or liabilities.
As I found out how each and every ministry would have deficiencies in their record keeping, it finally dawned on me why and how itâ€™s possible to have money for a 250 million kshs office for a retired president but no money to pay the teachers. How itâ€™s possible to propose that 2.5 billion be spent on celebrating 50 years of independence and yet there are not enough resources, not enough hospitals and certainly no money to pay the healthcare practitioners.
Itâ€™s simple. Nobody is there to account for such necessary expenditure, but everybody is there to account for ludicrous extravagancies. Itâ€™s just shocking that Treasury keeps forking over funds while never receiving any profit and loss statement or any indication that there is a single coherent book keeper in all the ministries.
This has been going on for 50 years; is this what we are going to celebrate? When you have budgetary allocations of 900 billion and yet 33% of that figure is unaccounted for there is NOTHING to celebrate. What kind of government plans a party without knowing their assets or liabilities anyway?
Wait a minute. Kenya has been borrowing money for decades not knowing what we are worth! Well, given the book keeping abilities of these ministries I can say government accountants and auditors are worth nothing; priceless and also value less. We couldnâ€™t sell them to repay debt; I doubt we can even give them away.
Letâ€™s just call a spade a spade; this is the extent of rot, poison and corruption in our government. Officials can casually check out funds and not even have to account for their expenditure. Money just flows into ministry accounts straight from the National Treasury and then poof! Disappears. No accounting means no receipts, no services rendered and no one to answer to.
No wonder you can hear of such absurdities as checkbook leafs missing and yet itâ€™s the same check book used to sign for an 18 million shilling trip. Heck, what is a check book page when almost 300 billion Kenya shillings are unaccounted for in just ONE year!
What a fantastic enterprise the Kenya government is. So rich with possibilities for any sort of dungeon rat to profiteer and enrich themselves. No wonder these government posts are fought over so viciously.
The greatest travesty is to have one Sarah Serem of the Salaries and Remunerations Commission meekly back down and hand over a monthly take home of 383.9 million kshs to just 349 people and then turn around and deny 250,000 teachers their July salary because they went on strike to demand their rightful dues.
I remember the Deputy President chatting with Julie Gichuru of Citizen News, saying that the agreed upon salary hikes and allowances for the teachers had to be done in installments. â€œWe canâ€™t do things hivyo tu, we need time.â€
No. You donâ€™t need time; you and your forebears have had 50 whole years to cause disaster. You need to be held to account. You need to put every penny where itâ€™s supposed to be and pay whoever needs to be paid, because it is clear that not only can Kenya afford its own wage bill, Kenya can also invest and build up on its assets if only this country knew what they were.
How upsetting then, for any one of sound mind, that this same government can propose to celebrate 50 years of independence with an extravagance of 2.5 billion shillings which includes a statue worth 50 million kshs of retired president Kibaki. What sort of material are they making the statue from, pure Kryptonite? The idea, suggestion and brazenness of putting 50 million into a statute while people live in utter squalor and die in miserable poverty ridden hospitals is just a testament to what vicious minds are in charge of our funds.
Itâ€™s not enough to report that government cannot account for its assets or liabilities, Mr. Auditor General; itâ€™s time to start arresting people for embezzlement, fraud and corruption. Indeed, such traitors should be shot, hung, tried, crucified and shot again for all the misery they cause, for their poisonous infectious greed and most of all for causing the whole country to live in debt for decades and yet we always had the means to be really and truly independent of Foreign Aid and Foreign Loans. Itâ€™s a wicked, evil lot that would enslave millions in this manner, and they should not be spared.
This opinion piece was first published at http://www.bettywaitherero.blogspot.com, follow Betty on twitter @bettywaitherero