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Justice sector funding enhanced to boost graft war

The Office of the Attorney General was allocated Sh5.1 billion, with funding for the Financial Reporting Centre increased to Sh587 million up from Sh300 million in the 2017-2018 budget. Photo/TREASURY.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – The government has enhanced funding for the Governance, Justice, Law, and Order (GJLO) sector in a move geared towards winning the war against corruption.

Reading the Sh3.07 billion 2018-2019 budget on Thursday, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich announced an allocation of Sh 6.4 billion to criminal investigation services even as the funding for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) was enhanced to Sh2.9 billion compared to Sh2.3 billion in the 2017-2018 budget.

“These measures are aimed at strengthening multi-agency teams involved in the war against corruption,” said Rotich when he presented the budget in the National Assembly.

The Office of the Attorney General was allocated Sh5.1 billion, with funding for the Financial Reporting Centre increased to Sh587 million up from Sh300 million in the 2017-2018 budget.

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), one of the key bodies in the fight against corruption was allotted Sh161 million.
Parliament was allocated Sh36.8 billion to facilitate effective delivery of its oversight role.

The Justice department is a key player in the fight against corruption. Graph/JEREMIAH WAKAYA.

Funding for Judiciary and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, however, declined to Sh15.2 billion and Sh2.9 billion respectively, the two having been allocated Sh18 and Sh4 billion respectively in the 2017-2018 budget.

Rotich also announced stringent measures to curb loss of public funds through fraudulent procurement in the public sector with government officers now required to share reports on contract awards with The National Treasury.

“All the Accounting Officers will be required to share reports on contract award to the National Treasury in order to enhance transparency and accountability in public procurement and assets disposal,” he said.

The new reporting mechanism is in line with an Executive Order signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, in which State entities were directed to publish details of tender awards beginning July 1.

Kenyatta also directed all public agencies to undertake procurement through the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) from January next year.
President Kenyatta is banking on multi-agency teams prosecution corruption cases including the ongoing cases in the loss of Sh 468 million from the National Youth Service (NYS) through fraudulent payments.
The ODPP and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have emerged as key players in the war especially in ongoing prosecutions of 54 individuals—including suspended Public Service and Youth Affairs Principal Secretary, Lillian Omollo, over the loss of Sh468 million in the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal.

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Omollo stepped aside alongside National Youth Service Director-General Richard Ndubai ahead of their arrests and prosecution. They are among forty government officials charged on May 29 with corruption-related offences.

Alongside other suspects, they have since remained in remand despite numerous attempts to seek bail pending trial.
High Court Judge, Hedwig Ong’udi is set to rule on Tuesday on whether Omollo, Ndubai, and 44 other suspects who applied for bail will be set free.

The suspects had moved to the superior court in protest of a ruling issued by Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti on June 5, denying them bail on account of the gross economic crimes they faced.

Omollo and Ndubai denied charges of conspiring with 14 directors of private entities to irregularly pay Sh468 million to ten companies over a varied period of time without there having been procurement. They also denied abuse of office charges.

According to DPP Noordin Haji, investigators had established that no goods or services were supplied by the ten firms which drew the Sh468 million from public coffers.

The 2018-2019 budget has however taken a toll on the judiciary who have in previous years raised concerns over what the Chief Justice has termed as inadequate funding.

“Indeed, in this financial year (2016/17), it (judiciary funding/allocation) slipped to 0.99 per cent. This falls below the internationally recommended Judiciary Budget of 2.5 per cent of the national budget,” Chief Justice David Maraga remarked on December 15 last year during the release of the State of the Judiciary and the Administration of Justice Report, (SOJAR) 2016-2017.

In the year under review however, the judiciary had only absorbed 67 per cent of funds allocated to it. In the previous Financial Year, the judiciary posted an absorption rate of 54 per cent.

The judiciary has 5,619 staff among them 158 judges, 421 magistrates, and 55 Kadhis.

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