Average tender bribe hits Sh275,000 as firms eye big deals

EACC chief executive Halakhe Waqo: “This depicts a scenario where obtaining services is deliberately made expensive for the mwananchi.” PHOTO | FILE
EACC chief executive Halakhe Waqo: “This depicts a scenario where obtaining services is deliberately made expensive for the mwananchi.” PHOTO | FILE 

Tenderpreneurs are paying on average Sh275,000 bribes to secure government contracts, according to a new survey which also shows that Kenya’s corruption level perception has risen.

The National Ethics and Corruption Survey 2015 released Tuesday shows that companies are engaged in cut-throat competition to secure lucrative tenders.

A tenderpreneur is a person who abuses their power and influence to secure government tenders and contracts.

The number of Kenyans who think there are high levels of corruption has risen from 67.7 per cent in 2013 to 73.9 per cent last year, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) survey shows.

EACC chairman Philip Kinisu said that the survey did not seek to isolate the levels or which government institutions are most affected by tendering corruption adding that this would be addressed in the next survey.

“A separate study has shown that procurement accounts for at least 70 per cent of the public corruption we witness in this country,” he said.

Tender bribes are usually paid to the tendering committee or influential persons in the institutions with enough clout to push through the award to a company at the expense of merit.

The EACC did not provide a comparative amount for the tender bribe as the last study in 2012 did not include the amount then.

The survey however provides comparative average bribe sizes overall. In 2012, Kenyans were paying average bribes of Sh4,600 but this has since risen to Sh5,600 in what Mr Kinisu said may be a case of inflation.

“This is quite high in terms of the increase. This depicts a scenario where obtaining services is deliberately made expensive for the mwananchi,” Halakhe Waqo, the EACC chief executive said.

Bribes to secure a job commanded the second highest amount after those for tenders at an average Sh116,000 shining a spotlight on government recruitment.

Recruitment, especially for police and army, has been in the past been marred by allegations of massive corruption with senior officers said to pocket up to Sh250,000 in exchange for guaranteeing a place in these disciplined services.

The third most expensive bribe at an average Sh33,500 relates to the release of impounded goods.

The survey further shows that the health departments of counties are the most corrupt units (29 per cent) in the devolved governments presenting a worrying figure for the poor when seeking treatment.

Most of the health facilities in the country have been devolved and the high likelihood of being asked for a bribe to be treated further derails the goal of taking healthcare closer to the people.

“As the EACC we are going to be shining a very bright spotlight on the sector, both at county and national level, to first understand why that high level of corruption is being reported and secondly how we can help to turn this around,” Mr Kinisu said.

Overall, the Kenya Police is still perceived as the most corrupt institution at 31.9 per cent followed by traffic police at 18.8 per cent and chiefs’ offices at 6.2 per cent.

The survey indicated that half of the respondents feel that corruption in Kenya is increasing but Attorney-General Githu Muigai said that some of the scandals highlighted in the media are fuelled by partisan persons keen to exploit the corruption narrative.

“Of all the previous anti-corruption initiatives, this is by far the most audacious affront against corruption we have witnessed in this country since independence,” he said.

Prof Muigai added that a Bribery Bill developed last year in conjunction with the private sector will soon be tabled in Parliament in what could see a reduction in the tender bribes.

“I’m pleased to inform you that the Bribery Bill 2015 that was initiated by the private sector has been approved by the Cabinet sub-committee on legislation and will be tabled in the National Assembly in the coming weeks,” he said.