Kenyatta reports frustration with US on aid, but new reports show more corruption problems

From an AP report today, in the Boston Globe:

Kenya’s deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, said he also would like to see more cooperation from the United States on stabilizing Somalia and fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Kenyatta said U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, had said that Kenya could expect more aid through an agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corp. after it pushed through a new constitution.

The constitution was signed in August, but Kenyatta says U.S. development agencies are insisting on evidence of progress in taming corruption.

Kenyatta asked, in his words, “Why do they keep changing the goal posts?”

At the same time, however, the Daily Nation ran a story headlined “Revealed: Fraud and waste of tax billions”:

The government lost billions of shillings from the tax kitty during the 2008/2009, according to the latest Controller and Auditor-General’s report.

Discipline was so poor that ministries spent fortunes and then pushed the bills to the following financial year in the so-called pending bills.

But the biggest scandal is in imprests where government officials are given money for travel, accommodation and other official expenses, which they fail to account for. In the period under review, public officials failed to provide proof of how they spent Sh3.4 billion in imprests.

Paid to fake IDPs

In some cases, the officers could not explain how they spent public money. Some of it was paid to fake internally displaced persons (IDPs) in apparent widespread fraud.

A total of Sh7 billion was poured into funny imprests or nobody can explain how the money was spent.

So prevalent is the imprest abuse and fraud that some of the civil servants have left the service holding the money, meaning that it will never be recovered. The auditor questions why officials were allowed to pile up unaccounted for imprests, even though there were rules on accounting for such funds.

I attended a discussion at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) back in the summer of 2009 with key Kenyan parliamentary leaders–this was the key theme then when I asked a panel what message they would have to Americans interested in being helpful to Kenya: more aid dollars, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation particularly. It seems to me that good governance and limiting corruption have always been understood to be key MCC criteria. Kenya has a lot going for it–a lot of advantages over other poor countries–so why the special pleading? As long as new scandals continue to accrue while the old ones fester unaddressed, it does not seem to me that Kenyan politicians are entitled to be frustrated with the US for not ramping up government-to-government aid expenditures.

1 thought on “Kenyatta reports frustration with US on aid, but new reports show more corruption problems

  1. The Nation’s article came the same time I wrote a post on corruption in Africa.
    I like your post. However, Africa’s corruption is so endemic that it is time to remove the gloves. African governments are just hoodlums, looting the coffer and robbing their people blind.

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