EDITORIAL: Enforce anti-corruption laws to eradicate menace


Any fishy transactions must be immediately flagged and parties involved held to account for their actions. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The latest revelations that international contractors are still bribing Kenyan officials to win multi-billion-shilling infrastructure development deals is quite disconcerting and requires prompt action to rid the country of the vice.

Corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), says in its global assessment of ethical business practices that bribery of Kenyan officials has continued unabated partly because foreign governments are not enforcing existing anti-corruption laws.

In Kenya, for instance, this is grossly discomforting because of ongoing and planned mega infrastructure projects that are being developed mainly through foreign contractors.

The import of it is that the Kenyan taxpayer who is the ultimate financier of these projects have not chance of ever getting value for money.

To effectively confront this monster, the public must demand transparency in the award of mega contracts- in the manner that President Uhuru Kenyatta has recently pronounced through an executive order.

Secondly, foreign governments such as the Chinese must use the available international instrument they have signed on such as the OECD code of ethics to deal with companies that are bribing foreign officials as the United Kingdom did recently with the infamous Chikengate scandal. For Kenya, minimising pilferage could also help ease the economic pain coming out of the heavy debt burden that the country bears currently.

Even more important in this fight against corruption is vigorous and timely auditing of all mega public infrastructure projects and the financial transactions of government officials involved as well as the selected contractors to seal any loopholes for kickbacks.

Besides any awards to international contractors, should be followed by close monitoring and regular financial audits to eliminate any chances of contractors colluding with local officials to cut corners and cheat the public of their taxes.

Any fishy transactions must be immediately flagged and parties involved held to account for their actions.

Luckily, Kenya has a comprehensive law that criminalises corruption with stiff penalties including a Sh5 million fine for convicted executives and a 10-year embargo on offending firms. What is lacking is execution of this law, which should make corrupt practices an expensive affair for those involved.