, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 10 – A united front by Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta ensured that the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-money Laundering Bill passed through the debate stage in Parliament on Tuesday.
The Bill which has on four occasions failed to get the nod of the House since it was first tabled in 2004, now moves to the Committee Stage.
Mr Kenyatta told Parliament that the Bill aims to provide punishment for the offence of money laundering, to introduce measures for combating the offence and for the identification, tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime.
“In view of the problem that money laundering poses to an economy and the society, the debate should not be whether or not Kenya should establish a money laundering Bill but rather the quality of the legislative regime,” he said.
Mr Odinga, who seconded the Bill said that the country had suffered from the effects of money laundering especially in the property sector whose value has been skyrocketing due to the money being brought from the acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia.
“This money which ship owners are forced to part with through extortion is definitely finding its way into our country. That is why you find the property prices in the country are skyrocketing – in some City estates locals cannot buy property,” said the PM.
Defence Minister Yusuf Haji said the Bill should not be used to victimise members of the muslim faith which he blamed on the US-led war on terror.
This was after the PM moved to assure members that the Bill was not being substituted for the Anti-Terrorism Bill which was shot down in 2005 following reports that it was being used to crackdown on Islamic groupings.
There was drama after members dared the defence minister to substantiate his claim that `there were drug barons in the House’. Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale led the onslaught and called on the Temporary Speaker Margaret Kamar to enforce the Standing Orders.
“If you want me to identify them, just look at the best dressed person in the House,” said Mr Haji before resuming his seat. He was later forced to apologise to the House but promised to bring a substantive Motion on the same.
Meanwhile, Parliament adjourned early on its first day back in session due to a quorum hitch.
At the time of adjournment about 20 members were present in the House forcing the Temporary Speaker Margaret Kamar to adjourn the House at 5.30 pm an hour before time.
Earlier, Speaker Kenneth Marende had reprimanded the government side for failing to take the business of the House seriously.
He urged the government side to avoid such cases that had dogged past sessions warning of sanctions to Ministers who fail to take House business seriously.