The Treasury has withdrawn the Sh300 million set aside for the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to purchase an office block, triggering a crisis at the agency which has only one month to vacate the Integrity Centre.
Treasury secretary Henry Rotich said he cut the EACC’s budget that had been set by Parliament, after the anti-graft agency failed to identify a new building to host its headquarters.
The move reduced the agency’s development budget by half to Sh300 million.
The EACC has been given up to June to vacate the Integrity Centre offices. The EACC had earlier asked for Sh400 million, Sh100 million more than the Treasury’s ceiling, to buy an office block.
The one-off expenditure was intended to eliminate the Sh70 million the anti-graft agency pays every year to Revack, a company associated with former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott, which owns the Integrity Centre.
Suspended EACC chairman Mumo Matemu accused Revack of terminating the lease agreement after the agency started investigations on how the company acquired the Integrity Centre from the Deposit Protection Fund.
“Office space not yet identified. To be provided in full once the new premises are identified,” said Mr Rotich of the budget cut in the Budget Estimates presented to Parliament last week.
The withdrawal of the office purchase vote comes as another blow to the EACC, just days after President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended its top commissioners to pave the way for investigations into allegations of abuse of office.
Analysts and legal experts, including the Commission on Implementation of the Constitution have warned that the EACC is unlikely to properly prosecute the high profile graft cases without its top leadership.
The cases involve high-ranking officials in Mr Kenyatta’s government, among them five cabinet ministers.
Apart from buying an office block, the EACC asked for a higher 2015/16 allocation to finance expansion of its capacity to fight corruption that is rife in the award of public tenders by national and county government officials.
The EACC said it requires Sh24 million to open additional 12 regional offices and 35 Huduma reporting centres in the counties where it has no presence.
“The Commission shall ensure access to its services in all parts of the Republic in accordance with Article 6 (3) of the Constitution, ” Section 3 (3) of the EACC Act notes.