Kenyan minister avoids censure over printing deal

506

A Kenyan cabinet minister survived censure after parliament threw out a report by a parliamentary committee that accused him of entering a banknote printing contract which caused the loss of some $21 million in public funds.

In a report issued last month, the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommended the sacking of Amos Kimunya, now transport minister but finance minister at the time the contract was signed, as well as central bank governor Njuguna Ndung’u, for committing the government to a joint venture with De La Rue PLC to print bank notes.

The PAC accused Kimunya, in his former post, of terminating a long-term contract held be De La Rue and replacing it, under the joint venture, with four short-term contracts that cost more, resulting in the loss of over 1.8 billion Kenyan shillings of public money, Reuters reports.

Kimunya, a close ally of President Mwai Kibaki, rejected that conclusion, saying the deal had actually saved the country 3 billion shillings.

The report had been submitted to parliament for debate.
“I can confirm the report has been defeated by the majority of legislators,” PAC chairman, Bonny Khalwale, told Reuters.
“It is unfortunate that this happened because I had hoped the report, if passed, would send a clear message to the international community that the country’s leadership was fighting corruption,” he said.

The report had also called on the Kenyan anti-graft agency to investigate the roles in the deals of both Kimunya and Ndung’u.

Rampant corruption at all levels of Kenyan society is a concern for investors in east Africa’s largest economy, as is the lack of political will to tackle it.

A few senior politicians have been charged with corruption but none have been jailed.

Kimunya would have had to resign if parliament had adopted the document.

Ndung’u, who has declined to comment on the report, would have had to face a presidential tribunal to investigate him had the document been adopted, because he has security of tenure.

Kimunya was forced to quit as finance minister in mid-2008 after parliament censured him for his role in the irregular sale of a government hotel, while Ndung’u narrowly survived an attempt by the house to sack him earlier this year for failing to stop a steep weakening of the shilling against the dollar in 2011.