alexa Senator Ephraim Maina wants war on graft stepped up - Daily Nation

Senator Ephraim Maina wants war on graft stepped up

Tuesday September 10 2019

 Ephraim Maina

Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LUCAS BARASA
By LUCAS BARASA
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Anti-graft agencies have been challenged to take advantage of political goodwill following the pact between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga and hasten fight against the vice.

Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina also called on governors to help fight corruption for the trillions of shillings channelled to the devolved units to benefit Kenyans.

"The prevailing climate of handshake where there has been less political interference in tackling national problems provides the best opportunity to fight graft," Mr Maina said.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga entered into a political ceasefire in March 2018 ending months of uncertainty in the country after disputed 2017 presidential polls. The two leaders have since joined hands in efforts to unite the country and end theft of public resources.

In an interview in Nairobi, Mr Maina said 'patriotic' Kenyans should support President Kenyatta's and investigative agencies efforts to tame corruption.

"I would like to congratulate Justice Mumbi Ngugi for coming out clearly for ensuring leaders charged with graft stay away from office as per the constitution to avoid interfering with evidence. This will help minimise corruption," Mr Maina said.

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He regretted that despite more than Sh1.8 trillion being channelled to county governments due to devolution there was little to show in terms of service delivery and solving of problems at county levels including health, education and roads.

Instead, he said, cases of wastage, corruption and extravagance were high.

He urged religious organisations to be in forefront in condemning plunder of public resources "at a time when Kenyans lack basic services."

According to international bodies and government reports, the country loses about 30 per cent of annual budget due to graft and Mr Maina said, if the loopholes are sealed there will be no need for the country to borrow money.

Although devolving of resources was good, he said, there should be proper "oversight, monitoring and checks and balances to curb greed, wastage, extravagance and stealing."

"It doesn't make much sense to continue pumping money where there's no monitoring and oversight. There's need to create a monitoring and oversight body urgently and strengthen the Auditor General's office. Kenya should also emulate countries where graft has been successfully fought and review its laws," Mr Maina said.

Saying corruption remained the biggest impediment to growth of the country,

Mr Maina said lack of proper checks and monitoring "is tantamount to filling water in a leaking container."

Welcoming the resolution of a dispute between the National Assembly and the Senate on the amount of money that should be allocated to the counties, Mr Maina said, governors should ensure the funds go to services that benefit ordinary Kenyans like health, education, water and agriculture.

The devolved units, he added, should further streamline revenue collection.

He called for formulation of framework to monitor usage of resources in counties.

Mr Maina said most small scale traders were closing their businesses as a result of graft and penetration of businesses that should be reserved for locals by corrupt cartels and illegal foreigners.

"This is a dangerous trend since small scale exporters, importers and traders employ a huge part of the population. The closure of businesses as seen in Nyamakima and upcountry towns will only add to huge unemployment and poverty in society," Mr Maina said.

He also called on the government to take a stern action on cartels infiltrating the tea sector "otherwise it will be very sad for tea to follow footsteps of coffee and sugarcane and end up in destruction."

"All measures must be taken to protect this crop and ensure farmers get their returns," Mr Maina said.