Home Business British MPs fault delayed tenders scrutiny clause in pact with Kenya

British MPs fault delayed tenders scrutiny clause in pact with Kenya


Economy

British MPs fault delayed tenders scrutiny clause in pact with Kenya


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UK parliament in session. PHOTO | AFP

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Summary

  • The UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provides that the parties will conclude negotiations on transparency in public procurement within five years after the pact comes to force.
  • This will compel authorities in both countries to disclose details of public tenders after five years from the time the treaty, which was last week approved by the British House of Lords, is ratified.

United Kingdom lawmakers have criticised a clause in the trade deal with Kenya which will delay opening up of public tenders for scrutiny by up to five years, arguing that run-away corruption in Nairobi needed immediate action.

The UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) provides that the parties will conclude negotiations on transparency in public procurement within five years after the pact comes to force.

This will compel authorities in both countries to disclose details of public tenders after five years from the time the treaty, which was last week approved by the British House of Lords, is ratified.

However, some British MPs complained during last week’s debate on the document – which ensures continuity of duty- and quota-free access for exports to the UK – that the timeframe for enforcing transparency in public contracts was long.

“Kenya without corruption will be well-placed to deliver. Could we not have been more ambitious in pushing Kenya for transparency in public procurement contracts? Why didn’t we push for something more demanding on this vital issue?” Baroness Patience Wheatcroft told the Britain’s upper House of Parliament.

The House of Lords was reminded of an admission by former Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) chair Philip Kinisu who in March 2016 estimated that as much as a third of annual budget is lost to graft.

This translates to about Sh900 billion, or Sh2.45 billion daily, given the annual budget of about Sh3 trillion – a disclosure President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared to acknowledge in January by admitting corruption sucks about Sh2 billion daily from public coffers.

“A succession of scandals in public procurement have been exposed year after year. Some have involved massive contracts, some just a consistent pattern of graft. Such corruption deprives the people of the wealth that they could be enjoying,” Baroness Wheatcroft said.

Other trade-related issues which will be negotiated within five years include competition policy, intellectual property rights as well as investment and private sector development.

“We will make sure that respect for human rights, democratic principles, rule of law and good governance remain essential and fundamental elements of the agreement,” Lord Gerry Grimstone, Minister for Investment at Department for International Trade, told the House.

Nairobi signed the EPA with London on behalf of the six-nation East African Community (EAC) on December 8, a pact now awaiting approval by Kenyan lawmakers.

The Kenyan MPs and civil society groups have raised concerns over the trade pact largely on grounds of inadequate consultations with stakeholders.



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