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Kenyan civil service purge ok, says Otieno

NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 15 – Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno has defended the government`s tough action on Permanent Secretaries implicated in corruption, saying they are directly accountable for the proper use of public funds.

The minister discounted claims that public officials were being unfairly targeted in the war against corruption.

”We are demanding accountability and responsibility from accounting officers.  In the fight against corruption, we are fighting against attitudes towards corruption and practices that allow corruption,” he said after opening a Commonwealth Secretariat workshop for public officers.

He said as the minister responsible for providing policy direction in the public service, he would be in the forefront defending his officers against any witch-hunt.

Five Permanent Secretaries and more than 12 senior officials in various government departments have so far been suspended after irregularities were detected in use of public funds.  However the respective Cabinet Ministers have remained untouched and retain their positions, leading to an outcry that public servants were being selectively targeted.

Mr Otieno said the government was demanding enhanced accountability, efficiency and principled service to the public.

At the same time he called on the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to ensure comprehensive investigations were done to avoid cases where public officials were subjected to unfair public trial without sufficient evidence.

”If any person is clear on what he has done an investigative process is something you should not be afraid of.  What is not right in the circumstances is when a report that is not a subject of a detailed investigation is flushed out and the public gets the perception that so and so is guilty when actually the investigations are grossly inadequate,” said the minister.

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Addressing participants at the weeklong Commonwealth Secretariat workshop for Public Officers, the Minister said Africa was suffering due to lack of transparency which is often exploited by international businessmen to circumvent procedures for investing in the continent.

He further blamed failure by African negotiators to get best value for their countries. 

The workshop will also discuss how to promote transparency and accountability in managing public debt and how it relates to other debt management systems.

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