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Treasury tightens project supervision to fight corruption

Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Toshitsugu Uesawa (left) and Economic Planning Secretary Joseph Mukui
Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Toshitsugu Uesawa (left) and Economic Planning Secretary Joseph Mukui during the Ticad Mini Consultative Conference at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi on September 11. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU 

Kenya has tightened its supervisory role on projects to ensure proper utilisation of public funds and fight corruption.

This is expected to boost public confidence and enhance ties with the donor community.

Planning Principal Secretary Julius Muia said this is aimed at attracting more support for various projects earmarked for implementation under the Medium Term Plan III, to be completed within the next five years.

Saying this was in line with the government’s Big Four development agenda, Dr Muia disclosed that “a strong and operative co-ordination team” was in place at Treasury to oversee implementation of all projects.

“The State Department for Planning has activated a sectoral monitoring and evaluation framework for all Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (Ticad) programmes. This entails regular updates on all Ticad programmes across all sectors which allows us to generate updates every six months,” he said.

Japan ambassador to Kenya Toshitsugu Uesawa welcomed the government’s move, saying keeping tabs on all projects across Kenya proves Ticad’s development framework was crucial to ensure that they go along way in improving lives. “The move will also facilitate and embolden future partnerships,” Mr Uesawa said.

The two spoke during the Ticad Mini Consultative conference in Nairobi convened to review progress made in implementation of the projects as well as the projects’ impact on communities.

Japanese government’s assistance in form of technical support, loans and grants currently stands at Sh622.5 billion.

Japan has funded several hydroelectric, geothermal, healthcare projects. It has also funded Mombasa airport and port expansion, roads, bridges and water development projects as well as provision of support to public universities.

In Mwea and within the Lake Victoria Basin’s West Kano and Ahero irrigation schemes, Japan is supporting a rice production enhancement scheme.

Past public projects funded by donors have on numerous occasions been prey to graft sharks (public officials and private contractors) who connive to fleece the taxpayer of billions of shillings by deliberate and unnecessary upward review of project costs.

In some cases, contractors had their tenders revoked for alleged shoddy works leading to lengthy and costly litigation that further delays the projects.

On their part, contractors have always complained of delayed payments forcing them to incur extra expenses on staff and machinery, which prompts them to abandon projects and take up new assignments while awaiting payments.

In its latest report titled ‘A Shift to More But Less’, audit and financial consultancy firm Deloitte said less than a fifth (16.7 percent) of government projects were completed on time, largely blamed on poor planning and corruption within the government.

It said 87 percent of all Kenyan public projects suffered time delays while 48 percent overshot their budgets creating a loophole for corruption to thrive.

Among those cited were the Judiciary’s Sh10.5 billion infrastructure development project funded by the World Bank, where 10 high court stations and 20 magistrate courts are yet to be completed five years later.

While 28 construction projects were awarded, eight had not started at the end of the contract period, which the auditor-general blamed on sleaze, lengthy tendering processes, court cases touching on material, land identified for development of courts, insecurity and inadequate capacity by the implementing unit, especially on planning, monitoring and budgeting.

Mr Oesawa said proper management of projects affirmed Kenya’s ability to chart a positive destiny that defines its future engagement with the Japanese government.

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