IMF push for wealth declaration among top State officers including the president, his deputy to increase transparency in the public sector.
If Kenya yields to pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to allow disclosure of public workers’ assets in two proposed legislation, their wealth—including that of the President and his deputy—will be made public.
Kenya’s proposed regulations to harmonize the asset declaration and conflict of interest legislative frameworks with international norms have been found to have flaws in the most recent examination by the Brettonwood organization.
Kenya had planned to publish and submit to Parliament the draft Access to Information Regulations and the draft Conflict of Interest Bill by the end of this year after finishing its collection of opinions from stakeholders and the general public.
But the IMF has pointed out flaws in the legislation, claiming that there are gaps in the disclosure of stated assets and a lack of models to verify the veracity of the properties.
In attempts to combat corruption, Kenyans have been unable to access information on the salaries, assets, and liabilities of those holding public office without being subject to a number of limitations.
The self-declared wealth declaration forms were to be easily accessible to the public via a website or in an open database maintained by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, according to the proposed laws (EACC).
At present, public officers are expected to declare their wealth every two years, but the information contained in the wealth declaration forms remains confidential and can only be accessed by those in pursuit of public interest.
Now, the IMF wants Parliament to make another attempt at backing the disclosures through to the law.
“Weaknesses remain in the current draft Conflict of Interest Law relating to the underlying system for asset declaration (scope of coverage, publication of asset declaration information, and mechanisms for validating accuracy of submissions), creating a risk that adoption of new regulations in their current form fails to improve accountability and integrity,” the IMF wrote in the report following a review between October 25 and November 8.
Of particular interest will be the wealth of the President and his entire Cabinet, MPs, and Senators, top county officials, executives of State-owned firms, and other senior civil servants whose role in the theft of billions of shillings in taxpayer money has been flagged in audit reports.
This is aimed at increasing transparency in the public sector and curbing the practice where influential State employees such as cabinet secretaries and CEOs of state firms enrich themselves through scandals involving bogus tenders and suppliers.
“Government progress in preparing the draft Conflict of Interest Law is noted, but substantial changes are needed in order to align the draft law with principles of good practice, especially relating to asset declarations,” the IMF wrote in the detailed report following approval of Sh55.07 billion ($447.39 million) disbursement to Kenya on December 19 as part of the Sh297.38 billion ($2.416 billion) budget support over 38 months from April 2021.
“[IMF] staff encourages the authorities to act rapidly to introduce necessary modifications regarding collection and publication of asset declarations prior to submission of the draft bill to Parliament.”
A number of top public servants are fighting asset freezes and seizures after investigations revealed secret bank accounts, cars, and apartments that could not match their incomes.