14 May 2019

Kenya: Nairobi Revenue at Risk Over Officers' Incompetence - MCAs

Nairobi County could be losing millions of shillings in revenue collected annually across its streams due to incompetent inspectorate officers.

The revelation was made on Tuesday during a meeting of the Budget and Appropriations committee, which learned that the officers do not have the capacity to differentiate between a genuine and a fake licence.

Committee chair Robert Mbatia also said they lack expertise on the technical duties of verifying licences, especially in fields such as medicine, as they are trained for general enforcement work.

Mr Mbatia further said "errant" officers often carry out enforcement without the assistance of technical teams yet they do not have codes that would help them scrutinise the permits.

"This has led to an increase in harassment cases, which has affected revenue performance as compliance has been low," said the Kariobangi South Ward Representative.

COMPLAINTS KEY

Tito Kilonzi, Security and Compliance Chief Officer, said the officers only look at the year, date and lifespan of licences when ascertaining authenticity.

"It is not possible to look at all the licences issued in Nairobi unless there are complaints. However, we have sub-county commanders or officers who always do checks to ensure businesses are compliant," said Mr Kilonzi.

Asked why inspectorate officers do not work with technical teams, Mr Kilonzi explained that they often accompany departmental officers to carry out non-compliance swoops.

He added that departmental officers are the ones charged with raising issues of fake licences and that once this is done, inspectorate officers are sent to departments upon requests by chief officers.

"Our mandate is to assist all revenue departments with enforcement. We are not in revenue collection," he said.

"For any issue to be investigated there must be a complaint from the concerned department. It is for them to say some 'people have fake licenses'," he said, adding that at least 60 inspectorate officers have been assigned to various revenue departments.

TARGETS

Mr Kilonzi maintained that inspectorate officers are enforces, not revenue collectors, but the committee learned that in the 2017/18 financial year, the department was given a revenue target of Sh82 million.

Hard-pressed by the committee to explain why the target existed, he said it was set much earlier and that he had raised the issue with acting County Secretary Pauline Kahiga.

The targets have since been scrapped, he said.

"I reached out to the county secretary and explained everything to her. Currently, we do not have any targets," he said.

WRONGFUL ARRESTS

Eastleigh North member of county assembly Osman Adow raised concerns about the frequent arrest of innocent people during patrols by rogue inspectorate officers.

Mr Kilonzi criticised his officers on this matter and promised to take action against those found guilty of harassing business owners and other people.

"Wrongfully arresting innocent city residents in the name of searching for non-compliant business owners is wrong and a violation of the people's rights. I will ensure my officers desist from such," he said.

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