NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 4 – The debate on the introduction of the new generation bank notes continues to elicit mixed reactions among politicians even as petitions were on Monday lodged in court to challenge the directive by the Central Bank of Kenya to have the new currencies circulate in the market.
On Monday, four opposition Members of Parliament from the Orange Democratic Movement Party (ODM) weighed in on the subject as they lauded the move, noting that it will enhance the purge on corruption.
The lawmakers who spoke at Parliament buildings led by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed said the change is a significant step by the government to weed out corruption in the country.
Mohammed said with the introduction of the new notes, the government would easily be able to trace individuals hiding huge sums of money in their houses in sacks in the event they try to utilise it before the October 1 deadline lapses when the old Sh1,000 currency is set to be scrapped from the market.
“It is believed that many people are holding a lot of money in their houses. I am told that some of the houses the toilets are full, they are only using one toilet and the others have become stores,” he said.
The ODM Director of Elections took a swipe at those opposed to the changes noting that their argument that CBK violated the constitution was unwarranted.
He in particular held that those pushing the narrative that the notes capture the image of the nation’s founding father President Jomo Kenyatta have gotten it all wrong and termed them as enemies of the war against corruption.
“The argument that people are raising that the currency has the face of a human being is totally misplaced. What I see is a building KICC with a statute of someone and not the face of a living person as such. For example, now if you are to take a photo of Tom Mboya street are you going to remove the statute of Tom Mboya,” he asked?
The Minority Whip in the National Assembly said the new currencies have incorporated top security features adding that it will now be difficult for any person to engage in money laundering.
“The circulation of illicit money in the market has now been made difficult and with the enhanced security features our currency will be respected both regionally and internationally,” he said.
Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang noted the new currency notes will solve what he described as “illicit financial flaws” which he said if left unattended would risk crippling the country into a financial crisis characterised by sluggish economic growth.
“I see this as a big step to be able to check on the ability of money launders and people who have the ability to starve the nation,” he said.
Kajwang cited cases where he suspects that a good number of governors who have questionable audit queries have hidden huge sums of money collected as revenues for their respective counties in their homes and affirmed that with the regulation in effect, some of the governors will now be able to bank the money.
“We want to see these governors picking money in bags and going to the banks to put that money where it belongs,” he said.
On his part, Seme MP James Nyikal said the move was long overdue and noted that individuals who were jittery about the changes are scared that their looted resources would go into waste.
The lawmakers spoke barely hours after the CBK boss Patrick Njoroge said the new notes are already in circulation even as he vowed to fight any legal battle in court challenging its legality.
He maintained that the changes were done in conformity to the law and that public participation was well observed.
“We will continue to release all the bank notes to banks and micro-finance institutions and I am ready to meet anyone in court opposing the new bank notes as a matter of agency,” he said.