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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Invest graft assets with care to benefit taxpayer

National Treasury
The National Treasury building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The move to liquidate seized graft assets and invest the proceeds in government bonds is a step in the right direction in returning to the taxpayer what was pilfered by corrupt officials and other private individuals or businesses.

Storing the recovered ill-gotten assets such as motor vehicles for months in police stations and Judiciary yards has effectively meant that despite the much-publicised seizures, taxpayers remain out of pocket, meaning that the seizures do not benefit the public.

The lengthy storage in the poorly-secured sites has also opened the door for other crooked officials to vandalise these assets, which are effectively public property, for their own gain.

It is, therefore incumbent upon Parliament to speedily pass the draft guidelines that the Treasury has published to determine how these assets will be allocated for public good.

For a long time, recovered corruption monies and assets have disappeared back into the hole since there was no process or system to ensure that the money has been directed to rightful use.

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It becomes even more painful when one considers that taxpayers who were robbed in the first place are being asked to step in to finance the expensive loans procured by the State to cover the Budget deficit caused partially by the theft in public coffers.

Putting the proceeds of the seized assets in government bonds is, therefore, a welcome move as it will demonstrate to the public that the State is serious in punishing the corrupt and using the money recovered for a social or collective good.

While the investment in bonds is certainly a good idea, we are also calling the government to ensure that the funds are put to good use, once it has earned interest.

It is, therefore, desirable that the Treasury put these recovery funds in a specially designed bond — preferably an infrastructure bond — which will ensure and assure Kenyans that the proceeds go to projects that will benefit the largest number of people possible.

This will earn the government public goodwill in the fight against graft, and these projects will remind the corrupt that what is stolen must eventually return to the taxpayer.

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