, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 4 – Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo says the government had no choice but to pay the Sh1.4 billion owed to two Anglo Leasing firms.
Odhiambo said she weighed the country’s financial position at the time and an opinion from the Attorney General, saying there were no options for appeal and the argument that Kenya needed to pay the Sh1.4 billion so that it could issue the Eurobond.
Odhiambo told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that further delays would only have led to paying more money in penalties.
“It pains that we had to pay this, but when the AG tells you, you have no window… what options do you have as an office? If it is the AG who did not appeal please get hold of him to shed more light, it would be very important for me as a Kenyan and indeed all Kenyans to know who didn’t perform their mandate.”
She said that not paying the Sh1.4 billion in time, had already cost Kenya an extra Sh1.2bn in penalties.
The Controller of Budget told the National Assembly committee that the Universal Satspace and First Mercantile Securities Corporation contracts were questionable but the payment was valid as it came from judgments against Kenya in court.
“It pains all of us that we had to pay this. To me the payment of the loan was legitimate, the contracts were fraudulent but the legitimacy as far as payment is concerned is legitimate,” Odhiambo said when she appeared before the committee.
Odhiambo told the House Sh500 million in penalties had already been paid with the remaining Sh700 million due to be paid in August.
She said everyone involved in the projects should be interrogated; those involved in designing and procuring the projects, negotiating and signing the contracts and ensuring their execution.
“This matter has caused untold pain and anguish to many Kenyans, myself included. I implore Parliament to leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this matter,” she added. “The investigations should not take forever. Let us reach some finality and tell Kenyans what happened. Kenyans deserve to know the truth.”
PAC Chairman Ababu Namwamba assured Kenyans that the committee probe will help the nation unravel the mystery of individuals behind the scandal which came to light in 2004.
“This committee must deploy on a special mission to search, locate and bring justice. We will delve into this matter with renewed resolve, so that anybody who had a part to play in this matter; surgeon, mortician, pathologist and undertaker must be brought to book,” Namwamba said.
Odhiambo presented documents indicating that the Ninth Parliament had authorised the payment of about Sh1.7 billion to the two firms between 2003 and 2006.
Part of this was paid after the government decided in August 2004 to suspend the contracts and stop payments.