LETTERS: Enforce anti-money laundering laws to spur growth and reforms

NYS officers walk next to some mobile clinics imported from China by Estama Investments at the NYS camp in Miritini on October 30, 2016. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG
NYS officers walk next to some mobile clinics imported from China by Estama Investments at the NYS camp in Miritini on October 30, 2016. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG  

After a long electioneering period, the focus has now shifted to service delivery in what has been labelled the Big Four, manufacturing, food security, affordable housing and healthcare.

This is in addition to other economic blueprints such as the Vision 2030, AU Agenda 2063 and UN Sustainable Development Goals. Apart from manufacturing, all the others require a lot of direct investment of public resources so as to achieve the expected results.

For food security, more funds need to be invested in irrigation and other modern agricultural programmes. In affordable health pillar, more funds will be put in drug and modern machine procurements as well as training of personnel.

This is also the same in affordable housing where more than 500,000 homes will be constructed annually.

Housing construction is a capital-intensive venture and given that many projects have collapsed or abandoned midstream, we have all reasons to worry.

We have had big scandals and allegations of misuse of funds in health, housing and irrigation sectors over the past five years. For example, the Sh5 billion Afya House scandal at the Ministry of Health. In the agricultural sector, we have Sh7 billion Galana irrigation project that is yet to bear fruit.

We still face the same food security challenge we had before the investment. In all these and other public projects, corruption, which is the biggest crime fuelling money laundering in developing countries, is always the cause of the project failure.

It’s, therefore, imperative that for the government to achieve the success of project four, anti-money laundering measures must be enforced to deter and disrupt the corruption schemes that can derail the projects.

Second, since the August 8 General Election, opposition politicians have been calling for reforms to ensure there is electoral justice.

The truth of the matter is, by merely reforming the election process without addressing issues and malpractices associated with election financing, nothing much will be achieved.

According to the Election Campaign Financing Act, the law sets limits on amounts of money that can be used by political parties and candidates to finance their campaigns.

It also requires the candidates to record the sources and details of their finances as well as submit bank accounts where the campaign finances will be managed.

Anonymous and illegal contributions are prohibited and attract stiff penalties if not declared and surrendered.

All this is meant to increase and deter illicit funds from being cleansed through campaign funding in exchange for protection.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been keen to enforce these regulations and the bigger possibility is that most of these accounts recorded nil transactions despite the billions that were spent in the just concluded campaigns.

With the rampant misuse and looting of public funds at the county level, large amounts of money have been carted away and the looters have been looking ways to spend the money.

Campaigns are, thus, a good way as they can be used to buy influence, power and protection. Strict enforcement of anti-money laundering laws through financial audits and spending caps would be act as a deterrence and a disruption of corruption networks.

Thiongo Irungu, anti-money laundering officer.