This past week I discovered two jobs where one is forced to receive extra money just for doing their job (and it’s not a bribe)
First is for workers at the harbour/ports. Even honest people walk away with (a minimum) Kshs. 2,000 at the end of the day in lunch money from grateful transporters just for doing their job. These guys (transporters) pay so many bribes that when someone does their job without asking for a bribe, they still can’t get over that and press some cash into the reluctant hands of the officers.
Then, passing through the airport yesterday, I overhead several travelers, too bothered to reprice the cost of a cup of coffee in Kenya shillings, pay 1 or 2 dollars or pounds and dash off to their gate. How that money is shared is another matter – but when an 80 shillings soda is paid for with a £1 note (equivalent) to about 130 shillings, there’s a healthy cut for someone – and probably more than any tip jar would bring in. This is probably a common occurrence in in the tourism industry (see how tour van drivers usually have plenty of dollars to sell)
It’s wealth declaration time again for the third year. The process was spearheaded by the intent to curb corruption by having leaders, mainly politicians, publicly declare their wealth. But we are yet to see feedback from anyone/authority who has seen our previous declarations.
According to the latest Adili (No. 82) from Transparency International, a miscellaneous bill in parliament will modify the act so that wealth declarations will be filed every two years, and not annually as is the current case. So far only a few politicians have made public their wealth which was the original intent of the act. Adili also argues, that by requiring only a few key individuals to file returns, Uganda (16,000) and Tanzania (5,400) may be able to handle the huge volume of wealth declaration data than Kenya (with over 650,000 annual returns).
Standard Chartered has introduced a diva card for women. The card, which has been rolled out in other countries, is a variation of their flat fee account now re-modeled for women to include discounts on auto assurance, health checks, and at some restaurants, salons and health clubs as well as an unsecured loan or overdraft at 15% p.a.
biz tip One great thing about flat fee accounts is for parents (or anyone)sending money abroad to use the free local/foreign transfer (one a month) contained in most of these accounts to send fees or other funds abroad at no extra charge. This can save about 3,000 shillings each time.
– The Nairobi-Mombasa air route is getting more crowded/competitive with Air Kenya (with a new Dash-8) joining East African Safari Air, and soon Fly 540 to take on Kenya Airways who have dominated the increasingly busy route for years.
– The Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC), who currently achieve 95% collections, have advertised to outsource their debt collections.
– The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has advertised to upgrade their smart card system for park entry.
It’s that time of the year when a good number of workers, civil servants, government officials, soldiers, university & co-operative officials, among others, have to declare their income, assets & liabilities – or wealth for the year (November to November) by December 31. Major financial transactions over the past year are reduced to fit a four-page form:
- (page one) name, occupation, marital status, physical address.
- (page two) list all spouses and children under the age of 18.
- (page three) list all income (salary, income from rent, investments, kiosk, matatu etc.) and assets (home, car, kiosk, shares, TV.)
- (page 4 ) list all liabilities and other useful information, and have a witness sign the wealth declaration.
At the end of it all, your life should resemble a proper balance sheet. E.g. if you declare rental income, you should also declare ownership of the house you’re renting. If all one has is salary, the form can be filled in minutes.
The noble exercise stems from the Public Officers’ Ethics Act 2003, which was passed to call weed out corruption in the civil service by having officers declare their how their wealth the public officers ethics act and suspicious declarations could lead to investigation for corruption.
We got a talk from our company secretary who explained that implementation of the wealth declaration has been poor because:
- The exercise is enforced by the current public service commission (PSC) which remains toothless.
- All the PSC can do is collect completed forms and store them – they have no computers, staff, or capacity to analyse the returns.
- Information can’t be shared with spouses or the Kenya Revenue Authority or spouses who feel that someone is hiding assets or suspected of criminal behaviour.
- Returns are kept for 30 years, but none of the records are computerised, only stored in some huge warehouse. Plus everyone individual must file a separate return i.e. married couples must each file their own at work, while attaching a copy of their spouses return.
- Returns of senior officials are sealed and can’t be opened e.g. a minister could have submitted a blank return and no one will ever know or check.
- PSC collects all returns strictly E.g. if an office has 200 employees, 200 returns must be received by year-end.
- Or Else: the penalty for not complying with this pointless exercise can be brutal – PSC will immediately notify an employer, that their employee has not filed, and ask that you be struck off the payroll until you comply (which takes a minimum of 3 months to rectify). Otherwise, the maximum penalty can be a million shillings or a year in jail, or both.
- Even if you’re abroad e.g. working at the Embassy in Russia, you must file a return. Yet PSC will not put the forms online and insists that returns must be on their original forms, not photocopies.
- A new Ethics and Integrity Commission is contained in the proposed new constitution (section 99) which will ensure & investigate compliance with the Act and also make public assets & liabilities of public officials.
- Failing that, an amendment to the act will be tabled when parliament returns that will make the returns public information as well as other improvements.
We must all applaud members of the 3rd progressive force for declaring their wealth. Assistant Minister Dunson Mungatana (23 gross 9.8 m MP earnings, 2.8m ministerial earnings, 1.8m from law practice, liabilities of 13.5m, 5 cars, two houses in Nairobi and 1 in Garsen), Assistant Minister Kivutha Kibwana (Net worth: 15m, 8m MP salary, 2 plots, 1 house, 4 cars, 2.3m in SACCO shares), MP Koigi wa Wamwere (Net worth: 15 million, 3 plots, 2 houses, 2 cars, 4 bank accounts with 1.8m, 600,000 in SACCO shares), and MP Kalembe Ndile (Net worth: 15 million, 8m salary as MP, 4 cars, 2 plots, 1.5 in SACCO shares) read out their wealth declaration form and laid down a challenge to members of the cabinet to do the same. [Kibwana and Mungatana were re-deployed to other ministries later in the day, but remain assistant ministers]
Their move was cautiously supported by Communications Minister Raphael Tuju and Justice Assistant Minister Robinson Githae.