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Editorials

EDITORIAL: House must sanction Rotich dams spending

Henry Rotich
Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Only a few weeks ago, the country was gripped by reports of corruption around the non-existent multibillion-shilling dam projects in the Rift Valley. Billions of shillings were reported to have been paid out irregularly to contractors — some of them bankrupt — in a web of suspected high-level corruption.

Among the top officials grilled over the matter was Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich.

Indeed, after being interrogated for days at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), probably the first time holder of the docket to be so questioned for suspected corruption while in office, one would have thought Mr Rotich would go slow on the dam projects.

Apart from the investigations, there is another major reason going slow should have been the natural reaction for Mr Rotich.

Parliament, which owns the national Budget, has ordered the projects to be stopped for auditing over their viability and clearing payment for the land owners.

Consequently, the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee in March stopped the building of the 24 dams.

Yet, this has not stopped the Treasury from proposing a Sh25 billion expenditure on the same, in total disregard of the order.

As far as Kenyans are concerned, no audit has been carried out and if that has happened, then it is only fair that they be made aware of the outcome.

The Treasury should clarify this matter because budgeting is a function of the House.

Taxpayers do not yet know the dynamics behind the proposed expenditure. Until the issue is cleared by Parliament, MPs should go ahead and reject the proposal to pay out the huge sums, and this is within their powers. But before that, it should summon Mr Rotich and other Treasury mandarins to explain why they have taken this curious decision.

The Treasury should not be allowed to continue piling up the national debt and spending scarce resources on suspect projects. For once, MPs must stop it before matters get out of hand.

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