UN eases Kenya cash crunch with Sh1.9bn refund

Kenya’s envoy to the UN Macharia Kamau. File PHOTO | NMG
Kenya’s envoy to the UN Macharia Kamau. File PHOTO | NMG 

The United Nations (UN) has eased Kenya’s cash crunch with a Sh1.9 billion refund for money spent by its troops fighting Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.

The Treasury documents show that the reimbursement was done last month, and accounts for a third of this year’s total refunds of Sh6.1 billion.

The refund is scheduled quarterly and the Treasury had received Sh906 million in the five months to November—pushing total refunds for the first half to Sh2.7 billion.

In the past, the delay of the money had been linked to the UN’s insistence on proper verification of Kenya’s claims.

The refund is expected to ease budgetary constraints for a government whose revenue collection for first five months to November is behind targets by Sh52.6 billion, setting the stage for further budget cuts.

Nearly 4,000 Kenyan soldiers are part of African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) and the international community provides $1,028 (Sh103,828) for each Amisom soldier a month.

Their respective governments then deduct about $200 (Sh20,200) for administrative costs meaning the soldiers take home about $800 (Sh83,628). The soldiers receive the allowances through the government.

The funds are only released to Amisom by the UN once accounts from the previous payment are signed off. In October 2011, Kenya formally sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia after incessant attacks and kidnapping of civilians by Al-Shabaab militants within its territory.

A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the greenlight to join the Amisom, a decision that meant the Treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.
Amisom has soldiers drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

Kenya has in the past used its ambassador to the UN, Macharia Kamau, to demand the reimbursements, saying that failure to refund was “unacceptable”.

President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated Mr Kamau as Foreign Affairs PS on Friday.