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December 14, 2018

Corruption the biggest problem - survey

"Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) estimates corruption takes away at least Sh600 billion of the country’s budget every year." /FILE
"Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) estimates corruption takes away at least Sh600 billion of the country’s budget every year." /FILE

Corruption is the biggest challenge facing Kenyans today, latest survey by Radio Africa Group has revealed.

According to the study, 39.7 per cent of Kenyans cited corruption as leading social economic challenge; followed closely by high cost of living at 30.7 per cent.

Kenyans’ concern about corruption should perhaps worry President Uhuru Kenyatta who in September an all-out war on the vice that Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) estimates take away at least Sh600 billion of the country’s budget every year.

"No one is being targeted and we will not be distracted by those politicising the fight. Even if you are my sister, brother or mother, you will not be spared. If you are innocent, let us see that in court," Uhuru said.

This year, Transparency International ranked Kenya position 143 out of 180 in corruption, trailing her East Africa peers. Rwanda has the best corruption index in the region at position 48 globally.

Read: Corruption has grown 240% over 5 years – PS Kibicho

Tanzania and Uganda are ranked at position 103 and 136 in the world respectively. Burundi has the worst score at potion 157 out of 180.

The country has witnessed high profile corruption sagas this year alone, key among them the infamous National Youth Service two where Sh9 billion is said to have been lost through dubious deals.

In May, details emerged of how National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) paid out Sh1.9 billion to faceless farmers.

Others include Sh2 billion meant for national wide tree planting in public schools, Sh600 at Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Power.

On Friday, director of public prosecutions Noordin Haji directed prosecution of former sports cabinet secretary Hassan Wario, ex-principal secretary Richard Ekai, former National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) chairman Kipchoge Keino and head of delegation Stephen Soi be charged over misappropriation of Sh55 million in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Radio Africa Group survey that sampled 1000 people in 26 counties revealed the tough economic time in the country, with 30.7 per cent of population declaring high cost of living as the second leading challenge.

Last Month, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Finance Bill 2018 that introduced eight per cent value added tax on fuel, a move that is likely to see commodity prices go up as manufacturers pass increased production costs to consumers.

Central Bank of Kenya warned during Monetary Policy Committee meeting that overall inflation is expected to rise in the near term, as secondary effects of VAT on petroleum products move to other sectors.

Read: Corruption in Kenya goes way back: Which President will tame the vice?

The study also unmasked high unemployment rate in the country releases at least 80,000 graduates in the job market every year. Respondents in the survey ranked unemployment as the third biggest challenge in the country at 14.8 per cent.

Kenya has unemployment rate of 7.4 per cent, this according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

The Finance Act 2018 has added more tax burden to Kenyans. Besides feeling effects of eight per cent VAT on fuel, it raised calling, internet and money transaction fees.

The law also introduced new taxes including National Housing Fund and Fuel adulteration levy. It is no wonder that Kenya’s ranked taxation as the fourth leading challenge facing them.

Poverty is also another big issue in the country with the study puts it at 2.5 per cent.

On Tuesday last week, World Bank lamented that economic growth in the country is not trickling down to poor Kenyans. According to the global lender, at least 17.3 million Kenyans still live below Sh92.4 per day.

At position six of challenges facing Kenya are huge foreign debt. Kenyans are concerned at how the government is accumulating foreign debts that have since pushed total public debt above Sh5 trillion.

Kenya is expected to spend up to 50 per cent of its domestic revenue this year to service debts. This challenge accounted for 0.7 per cent of Kenyans worry. Other challenges accounts for 8.2 per cent.

Details: Understanding the economic cost of corruption in Kenya

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