No one will be spared in graft war, Koskei tells MPs

Says Kenya has been grappling with theft of public resources at an industrial scale.

In Summary
  • He urged Parliament to play its critical of oversight and summon the Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Accounting Officers to answer all audit queries.
  • Koskei said the Auditor General and the Controller of Budget reports usually present the government with evidence of disturbing incidents that should not happen in a sober society.
Head of Public Service Felix Kosgei
Head of Public Service Felix Kosgei
Image: FILE

There will be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption, Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei has told the National Assembly.

Koskei said President William Ruto’s administration will pursue and sustain the war on corruption across the width and breadth of his government.

He said since the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, Kenya has been grappling with theft of public resources at an industrial scale.

“Corruption has permeated all aspects of society to the extent that it is normalised and citizens, businesses and public entities factor it into their daily expenses and budgets,” Koskei said.

“The government is fully committed to the citizens of this country and will stop at nothing to embed a culture of productivity, professionalism and service delivery. I can confidently say there shall be no sacred cows.”

He was speaking during the first-ever consultative meeting between the Executive Office of the President and the Parliamentary Audit Committees at Serena Hotel in Mombasa on Friday.

The seminal meeting in Mombasa brought together Parliamentary Audit Committees, the staff of the Executive Office of the President, the Auditor General, the Controller of Budget and the acting Inspector General of State Corporations.

Koskei said President Ruto’s government fully recognises and appreciates the critical role of the National Assembly in the broader governance architecture.

He said the recent expansion of the Parliamentary Audit Committees to six, demonstrates Parliament’s commitment to increasing focus on critical areas of governance.

“It is only fitting that the Executive demonstrates the same seriousness and commitment in dealing with the audit reports and your recommendations,” Koskei told the MPs.

The Head of Public Service said the Parliamentary Service Commission 2021-22 report on compliance with the implementation of recommendations of the Parliamentary Investment Committee (PIC) and Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) paints a worrying picture of laxity.

He said the Parliamentary Audit Committee reports issued from time to time provide a critical tool for monitoring and evaluation as well as a platform for engagement with Parliament and ministries, government departments and agencies (MDAs).

However, he said there is a gap and this may be the reason why some MDAs have over the years failed to act on the recommendations from Parliament.

“This inaction if not checked, is likely to spiral into a common practice and indeed, in some sectors, this has already happened, perpetuating a culture of waste and mismanagement,” he said.

Koskei said out of 477 public institutions that were evaluated in the 2021-22 financial year, only 58 (12 per cent) were subjected to Parliament’s PIC or PAC with 600 recommendations issued.

“Out of the 600 recommendations, 266 (44 per cent) were fully implemented, 157 recommendations (26 per cent) were partially implemented and 177 recommendations (30 per cent) were not implemented at all,” he said.

Koskei said the implementation of Parliament’s decisions and recommendations is mandatory and failure to comply should attract tough consequences.

“Public officers must understand that the decisions of the National Assembly are decisions of the people and cannot be ignored or wished away,” he said.

Koskei urged Parliament to play its critical role of oversight and summon the Cabinet secretaries, Principal secretaries and accounting officers to answer all audit queries.

“Accounting officers should appear before you fully prepared and the perennial excuses of lack of documentation witnessed historically should not be tolerated. Incidences of ignoring parliamentary summons should be treated as a breach of the Constitution and should therefore attract the appropriate sanctions within the legal parameters,” he told the MPs.

He said the impact of not holding institutions accountable is painful and is what has led to poor quality infrastructure, insufficient health services, inadequate social security system, unplanned, stalled and abandoned projects, and phantom projects that exist only on paper or in people’s minds.

“The net effect can only be summed up in one word ‘corruption’ of everything a country should hold dear; systems, processes, people and institutions,” Koskei said.

The Head of Public Service said President Ruto’s administration has realised that corruption is the biggest impediment to the achievement of the national goals and aspirations.

President Ruto has in the recent past issued a proclamation on the fight against corruption, stating categorically that he will not tolerate corruption in the public service and that he would lead the war on corruption personally, Koskei said.

He said this proclamation has set in motion very decisive administrative and programmatic interventions spearheaded by the office of the Head of Public Service.

In this respect, engagements have been held with all the institutions involved either in investigations, prevention and prosecution of corruption and asset recovery, he said.

Other engagements have been with institutions involved in financial reporting, law enforcement, all institutions overly prone to corruption and with all the cadres of staff under the Public Finance Act ecosystems.

“In all these engagements, the message has been one; improving governance and entrenching zero tolerance to corruption in the public service,” he said.

Koskei said the Auditor General and the Controller of Budget reports usually present the government with evidence of disturbing incidents that should not happen in a sober society.

“The reports elicit a sense of frustration at the alarming level of mismanagement, negligence, wastage, and what looks like fraud or outright theft,” he said.

“There is urgency for all individuals, offices and institutions charged with the management of public resources to act and stem the tide of corruption and mismanagement. History will judge us very harshly if we do not act now.”

MPs during the meeting, led by PIC Commercial Affairs and Energy chairperson David Pkosing, lauded Koskei for sitting down with the MPs to address the pertinent issue of graft in the country.

“This meeting should have come early, but it is not too late. We are glad that the Executive Office of the President has agreed to meet MPs for a consultative meeting,” he said.

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