EACC raises alarm over Bill proposing to amend anti-corruption law
Published on: June 12, 2023 09:52 (EAT)
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has raised concern over proposed amendments to the anti-corruption law contained in a bill by Mbeere North MP Geoffrey Ruku.
The Bill, aimed at amending certain sections of the law, has sparked worries that it may hinder investigations and pave the way for procurement-related scandals and abuse.
During a workshop in Mombasa, which brought together procurement professionals from national and county governments, EACC Deputy CEO Abdi Mohamud expressed his apprehension about the proposed amendments. He warned that these changes would allow suspects to commit theft of public funds without facing appropriate consequences.
Mohamud highlighted that a significant portion, over 80%, of EACC's forensic investigations involve procurement irregularities. Therefore, instead of weakening the existing anti-corruption law through such amendments, he stressed the need to strengthen it.
The Deputy CEO further explained that the EACC is currently prioritizing cases involving the misappropriation of public funds, many of which stem from fraudulent and manipulated procurement processes in both national and county governments. He disclosed that files related to the alleged theft of Ksh.1 billion in Siaya County will be completed within two weeks.
Mohamud revealed that the progress made in prosecuting corruption offenders and recovering ill-gotten wealth largely results from non-compliance with procurement laws, guidelines, and procedures—precisely what the proposed Bill seeks to remove from the legislation.
According to the EACC, the proposed National Assembly Bill seeks to repeal crucial provisions of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act of 2003, which would weaken the fight against corruption.
Specifically, the Bill aims to amend section 45(2) of the Act by eliminating two offenses: the failure to follow procurement guidelines and engaging in a public project without prior planning. These provisions currently hold public officials accountable for safeguarding public funds.
The proposed Bill argues that procurement flaws and expenditure on unplanned projects are merely administrative errors that can be addressed through non-penal mechanisms instead of criminal prosecution.
However, the EACC finds this argument misleading and contends that amendments to anti-corruption laws should strengthen the legal framework, rather than providing legal loopholes for perpetrators.
Mohamud warned that substituting criminal sanctions with administrative actions for serious corruption offenses related to procurement would only embolden corrupt individuals and hinder efforts to combat corruption and economic crimes.
The EACC is concerned that if the amendments pass, they will have far-reaching implications, including a surge in corruption scandals fueled by manipulated procurement processes, all under a weakened legal framework that fails to hold wrongdoers accountable.
Moreover, the proposed amendments would encourage the allocation of public funds to unplanned projects and compromise the efficient utilization of public resources.
Common corrupt practices facilitated by procurement practitioners include fraud, bribery through receipt of kickbacks, extortion of contractors and suppliers, conflict of interest, procurement of substandard goods and services, bid rigging, poor contract management, awarding of bids to self, employees and their family members, and skewed bid evaluation to yield pre-determined outcomes.
The EACC emphasizes that non-compliance with procurement laws and guidelines has resulted in criminal sanctions against offenders and the recovery of billions of public funds acquired through fraudulent procurement processes.
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