The scale of Kenya’s government corruption was exposed in a damning report by the country’s auditor general, who revealed that about a quarter of Kenya’s $16 billion state budget was missing. The lengthy report, which was released late Tuesday, also found that just 1 percent of Kenyan government spending was “incurred lawfully and in an effective way.”
Sixty percent of Kenyan government spending, about $5.9 billion or 600 billion Kenyan shillings, “had issues,” Kenya’s Auditor General Edward Ouko’s office found, according to Agence France-Presse. Meanwhile, spending worth $4.43 billion, or 450 billion Kenyan shillings, was completely unaccounted for, according to Reuters. “These public funds may not have been utilized lawfully and in an effective manner,” Ouko said in the report.
Ouko’s office singled out 17 government departments, including the health and transport and infrastructure ministries, which failed to provide documents to support spending totaling $659 million, or 67 billion shillings. Another 10 government departments, including the agriculture and judiciary ministries, failed to pay bills totaling $167 million, or 17 billion shillings, AFP reported.
The 361-page report was released days after U.S. President Barack Obama urged the East African nation to tackle political corruption, which has stunted Kenya’s economic growth. “Here in Kenya, it’s time to change habits, and decisively break that cycle, because corruption holds back every aspect of economic and civil live. It’s an anchor that weighs you down and prevents you from achieving what you could," Obama, whose father was Kenyan, said Sunday during his trip to Nairobi for an international business summit.
Since taking office in 2013, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to fight graft, but his critics have said not enough has been done. Kenya’s former transport minister Michael Kamau was among four ministers suspended in March. He was charged with abuse of office, while a second minister was charged with obstructing an investigation. Kenyatta’s administration has not yet commented on the auditor general’s report, according to Reuters.
Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, was not alone in government corruption on the continent. Nigeria in West Africa has also suffered economic repercussions from graft. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has asked Obama to help locate and return $150 billion believed to have been stolen by corrupt government officials, Bloomberg reported.