PWC economic survey: perception vs reality

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BY MUSYOKI KIVINDYO

The economic crimes survey released by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) recently, raises lots of questions on the veracity of the results. According to PWC, the survey is based on perception rather than material scientific evidence.

It sounds far too harsh that out of 78 countries surveyed, Kenya is leading the global crime survey at 66 percent ahead of more technologically advanced nations in Europe and the West, more prone to cyber crime. This is not to mention the other African countries that are not as advanced as Kenya and who were not surveyed for lack of organized and established systems like Kenya.

The survey paints a grim picture of an ailing and hapless corporate landscape that is at the mercy of crooks and cyber criminals. The assertion that Kenya is the worst performing, contradicts the respected position that the country has earned in the East African region, far ahead of its peers.

Is the information which is based on personal views from the 4,000 senior executives interviewed comprehensive? It is painfully noted that the USA, which is ranked 10th in the survey, suffered banking fraud scandals, asset misappropriation, collapse of financial institutions and theft by CEO’s in corporate America.

The culture of hefty bonuses and sweetened packages for senior executives cost US citizens billions of dollars, and loss of confidence in that country’s economy. This is not to mention the mortgage melt down which left hundreds of thousands homeless, as Corporate institutions maintained a glossy façade when in fact they were sickly shells.

The report says that asset misappropriation is the leading form of economic crime (both globally and in Kenya) having risen to a global incidence level of 72 percent and in Kenya 73 percent.

It is true that Kenya has its fair share of undesirable elements who abuse their privileges and positions. However, the assertion that Kenya is highest globally does not sound right.

Whilst according to PWC the survey provides a “useful indicator for evaluating economic crime and trends ” both regionally and globally, this should be based on concrete evidence.

PWC itself admits that increased public awareness of fraud since the 2009 survey, has increased efforts to detect fraud. It therefore worrisome to aver that Kenyan respondents reported the highest incidence of economic crime among all global respondents, at a level“ that is double” the global average of 34% and seven percentage points above the Africa average of 59%.

Does that mean other African countries with low awareness of fraud do not suffer the crime? Contrary to the campaigns championed by foreign governments and donors against Africa, corruption is as alive in European and Western Capitals as it in Africa. To stem this, the Government of Kenya has taken stringent measurers to deter and punish perpetrators of economic crimes.

The Efficiency Monitoring Unit, The Banking Fraud Investigations Department, Capital Markets Authority and the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission are all bodies formed to tackle these issues. In addition, the establishment of the commercial courts to enable speedy trial of industrial disputes which at times involve economic crimes is an assurance that Kenya is not oblivious to this sort of vice.

It is therefore important that surveys like this be based on concrete information and material evidence to eliminate doubt. Kenya is on the right path towards securing the investment and business environment supported by regulatory authorities and a constitution that advocates for harsh punishment to those who commit economic crimes.

(Musyoki Kivindyo is the Director of Communications at Brand Kenya Board)

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