Economy

President, senior officials wealth to remain hidden

uhuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Kenyans will not access information on the wealth of persons holding public office, including the President and his deputy, after fresh amendments to a proposed law on lifestyle audits.

Nominated Senator Farhiya Ali Haji, who sponsored the Lifestyle Audit Bill, now wants the House to delete clause 25 that sought to remove restrictions on Kenyans seeking to access information on the wealth of top State officials, including the President and his deputy.

It required that the self-declared wealth declaration forms be made available to the public through a website or in an unrestricted database hosted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

“That the Bill be amended by deleting clause 25,” Ms Haji said in further amendments that reinstate restrictions under section 30 of the Public Officer Ethics Act of 2003.

The Bill is set to be approved Thursday afternoon before the Senate adjourns indefinitely (sine die) to pave the way for the August 9 General Election.

At present, public officers declare their wealth every two years but the information remains confidential and only those in pursuit of public interest can access it.

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This was the second attempt to remove the restrictive clause that denies the public access to the information on the riches of State officers after a similar Bill was time-barred.

The review of the wealth disclosure law seeks to increase transparency in the public sector and curb the practice where influential State employees enrich themselves through scandals involving bogus tenders and suppliers.

The Lifestyle Audit Bill primarily seeks to entrench integrity in the public service and offer guidelines on vetting State officers suspected to be living beyond their known income.

“There is no legal framework on how a lifestyle audit is to be carried out on a public or a State officer who is suspected to be living beyond that person’s lawful income,” Ms Haji argues in the Bill.

Persons under lifestyle investigations will be required to provide information on the spouses and offspring (whether adults or children), a list of assets and companies owned by the public servants and their families.

“Lifestyle audit may be carried out on the immediate family of a public or a State officer if it is established that a property in question is owned by the public or State officer or members of their immediate family, including joint ownership,” says the Bill.

Giving false or misleading information will attract a fine of at least Sh5 million or a two-year jail term or both if the Bill becomes law.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has over the years backed lifestyle audits on holders of public office to curb corruption, which former EACC chairman Philip Kinisu estimated in March 2016 gulps down about a third of the national budget every year.

ALSO READ: Civil servants face Sh1m fine for failure to declare wealth

President Kenyatta, in June 2018, said all public servants, including himself, would be subjected to lifestyle audits.

Kenyans will not access information on the wealth of persons holding public office, including the President and his deputy, after fresh amendments to a proposed law on lifestyle audits.

Nominated Senator Farhiya Ali Haji, who sponsored the Lifestyle Audit Bill, now wants the House to delete clause 25 that sought to remove restrictions on Kenyans seeking to access information on the wealth of top State officials, including the President and his deputy.

It required that the self-declared wealth declaration forms be made available to the public through a website or in an unrestricted database hosted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

“That the Bill be amended by deleting clause 25,” Ms Haji said in further amendments that reinstate restrictions under section 30 of the Public Officer Ethics Act of 2003.

The Bill is set to be approved this afternoon before the Senate adjourns indefinitely (sine die) to pave the way for the August 9 General Election.

ALSO READ: Ruto fights back as State leaks personal assets details

At present, public officers declare their wealth every two years but the information remains confidential and only those in pursuit of public interest can access it.

This was the second attempt to remove the restrictive clause that denies the public access to the information on the riches of State officers after a similar Bill was time-barred.

The review of the wealth disclosure law seeks to increase transparency in the public sector and curb the practice where influential State employees enrich themselves through scandals involving bogus tenders and suppliers.

The Lifestyle Audit Bill primarily seeks to entrench integrity in the public service and offer guidelines on vetting State officers suspected to be living beyond their known income.

“There is no legal framework on how a lifestyle audit is to be carried out on a public or a state officer who is suspected to be living beyond that person’s lawful income,” Ms Haji argues in the Bill.

Persons under lifestyle investigations will be required to provide information on the spouses and offspring (whether adults or children), a list of assets and companies owned by the public servants and their families.

“Lifestyle audit may be carried out on the immediate family of a public or a State officer if it is established that a property in question is owned by the public or State officer or members of their immediate family, including joint ownership,” says the Bill.

Giving false or misleading information will attract a fine of at least Sh5 million or a two-year jail term or both if the Bill becomes law.

ALSO READ: Wealth of President, top State officers to be made public

President Uhuru Kenyatta has over the years backed lifestyle audits on holders of public office to curb corruption, which former EACC chairman Philip Kinisu estimated in March 2016 gulps down about a third of the national budget every year.

President Kenyatta, in June 2018, said all public servants, including himself, would be subjected to lifestyle audits.

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