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Economy

Serve the public or quit: Uhuru seeks to bar public workers from engaging in businesses

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga during the National Anti-Corruption Conference at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG 

Public servants may soon be barred from engaging in businesses that conflict with their duties in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive for a new legislation meant to address conflict of interest in government.

The president on Friday directed Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to come up with a legislative proposal to address a legal loophole that does not bar a public officer from engaging in business even when it clearly conflicts his role in government.

Public officials were also told to choose between serving the public or engaging in business as the war on corruption got momentum at the National Anti-Corruption Conference concluded at the Bomas of Kenya on Friday.

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“I direct the Attorney-General to come up with a bill to address the question conflict of interest and the unintended consequences of the Ndegwa Commission of 1971.

“Public officers must choose whether to engage in business or serve the public,” Mr Kenyatta said.

The Public Service Structure and Remuneration Commission chaired by then Central Bank chairman Duncan Ndegwa opened a leeway for state officers to engage in business in a loophole that many have exploited over the years to get rich.

Uhuru said traffic police officers who engage in public transport need to choose which of the two to pursue since they would not “police themselves.”

In 2017, the Senate made a similar attempt to bar public servants from engaging in business with the counties and national government.

Through a petition tabled before it by a private citizen Tony Watima, the senators attempted to take up the matter but it was not concluded.

“Parastatal chiefs should not be in a position to use their position to make personal gain. State and public officers will have a simple choice; serve in the public arena or go an engage in private business,” Mr Kenyatta told hundreds of delegates attending the two-day conference and the first of its kind.



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