Nairobi and Narok county officials are among those currently under investigation by the EACC for subverting digital county revenue collection systems in order to redirect funds. In a post from their X (formerly Twitter) account, the EACC stated that the devolved governments of certain counties were under investigation for crimes that may well amount to the loss of several billions of Kenyan taxpayers’ money.
Nairobi, Narok, Kajiado and Kilifi counties under investigation for redirecting funds
Alongside Nairobi and Narok county governments, the EACC is looking into the way public funds are collected in Kajiado and Kilifi counties. The investigation is specifically looking into the revenue collection systems used by these county governments. The suspicion presently is that these systems have been manipulated in order to digitise local county corruption.
In that same post on X, the EACC described how the manipulation of revenue collection streams amounts to “automated looting of public funds”.
The integrated revenue management systems, which were originally introduced to bring transparency and efficiency to the collection and management of public funds at the county level, are now being manipulated to divert those very funds into the hands of private individuals, many of whom, the area of investigation suggests, may well be county government officials. This alarming trend involves collusion between Governors, senior county officials, and companies providing the revenue management service.
The investigation is ongoing, but the EACC X post suggests that the corruption within these systems takes various forms, ranging from irregular tender awards favouring entities linked to county officials to fraudulent dealings occurring within the automated systems themselves.
One particularly disconcerting aspect of this issue is that, in some as-of-yet unspecified counties, the entire revenue management systems are under the control of private entities, which can potentially be manipulated for their benefit. In other instances, officials are alleged to run parallel revenue systems, diverting funds through unauthorized channels. The Nation’s reporting on this story also indicates that some senior county officials have been altering revenue data, using ‘super-user’ authority over the system, to direct funds into private bank accounts. The EACC investigation will likely look into where these funds are going.
Among the counties facing serious accountability deficits in their revenue management systems, Nairobi, Kilifi, Kajiado, and Narok are prominently mentioned. These counties, which are supposed to serve as examples of transparent and efficient revenue management, are now marred by allegations of corruption and mismanagement. This is particularly distressing for residents and businesses operating within these regions, as the misallocation of funds can lead to reduced public services, underinvestment in infrastructure, and a diminished quality of life.
The Kenyan Revenue Authority, as the body responsible for overseeing and ensuring the proper use of these integrated systems, has acknowledged the situation and is taking appropriate action in accordance with its mandate. However, it is crucial for Kenyan taxpayers to remain vigilant and informed about this issue, as it directly affects their financial well-being and the overall development of their counties.
The revelations surrounding the misuse of revenue management systems emphasize the importance of transparency and accountability at all levels of government. As the government takes steps to rectify the situation, Kenyan taxpayers should demand increased oversight, stricter adherence to procurement processes, and more robust checks and balances within the revenue management systems. This will not only help protect public funds but also contribute to the overall well-being of the citizens.
County government misusing taxpayers’ money poses more questions about devolution
The situation of alleged misuse of integrated revenue management systems in several Kenyan counties is further exacerbated by the country’s devolution of government, which was introduced as a result of the 2010 constitution. While devolution was intended to bring greater control and an avenue for county-specific policy and law-making, it has inadvertently provided corrupt government officials with the perfect opportunity to redirect funds.
The decentralization of power to county governments was meant to enhance local governance and facilitate community-driven development, but it has also led to increased financial autonomy for county leaders. Unfortunately, this newfound autonomy has created a breeding ground for corruption, as some officials have taken advantage of their positions to manipulate revenue management systems for their own gain.
This misuse not only compromises the principles of devolution but also highlights the urgent need for more robust oversight and accountability measures to safeguard public funds at the county level.