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Punish errant public officials

Wednesday January 22 2020

EDITORIAL
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The wanton wastefulness in the public sector is a crying shame. It is also in this sector where rampant corruption funnels resources away from projects and programmes meant to improve the people’s welfare. Whereas the private sector is driven purely by the profit motive, taxpayers’ funds come in handy for investment in huge infrastructure development projects, programmes and services meant for public utility and welfare.

This is why it’s shocking to hear that the government may have lost a whopping Sh92 million after a new foot-and-mouth disease vaccine manufactured by its veterinary agency was left to expire following a tug-of-war between some selfish senior government officials and the agency over an overseas benchmarking trip. The Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (Kevevapi) manufactured the oil-based vaccine in 2017 to replace a water-based one that has been in use for eons. As a result of the standoff, it could not be made available to farmers.

This is a big blow to the country as it stands to lose the revenue it badly needs. Kevevapi is the only institution in East Africa that produces the vaccine, which it sells to Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Local farmers have also incurred huge losses due to the high cost of treating their livestock.

The government implements projects to provide essential public services. It, therefore, deserves praise for building capacity and infrastructure and also providing extension services to sharpen the people’s skills to take charge of development programmes. However, when public officials sabotage programmes that should benefit the people, this is an unforgivable betrayal. The officers entrusted with investing government resources for the people’s benefit must do so or quit and those culpable of the loss punished.

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