Among the pile of documents any reporter writing about the current Anglo Leasing story, which is really not about Anglo Leasing but why let details get in the way of a good story, is the report of the Public Accounts Committee signed at the end with the seemingly endless signature that reads something like uuuuuuKenyatta.
George Kegoro says it was a wonderful report and because it is not often that George Kegoro attributes anything good to UK, let us believe him. It lays some good ground for the recommendation at the end that the contracts whose execution hadn’t started should be terminated and those that had started being executed ought to examined afresh to verify whether they were worth what Kenya would pay for them. In the meantime, it said, Kenya ought not to pay these chaps one more cent.
It was then that the well-documented arbitration and then litigation process started. These processes went from dusty Nairobi to cold and rainy London.
It is said, and I have seen no evidence to support this thesis, that as Kibaki was building Thika Road and the bypasses we like him so much for, some of these Anglo Leasing-type contractors were paid some Sh5.3 bn.
Kibaki is also well remembered because when his reluctanctly-procured coalition partner was recovering after emergency head surgery, he hit the road, gave journalists interviews (not the cliche’d wide-ranging ones but a smart-bomb one where he spoke about only the important stuff) and then urged us all to approve this thing, the Constitution…and thus created the Controller of Budget. This fastidious, straight-shooting, no-nonsense woman stopped Treasury quietly paying off First Mercantile Securities Corporation and Univeral Satspace, the two Anglo Leasing-type companies that come at us waving London Court Judgements.
Why do the cool and calm Henry Rotich and the quiet but firm Dr Kamau Thugge insist that it is important that we pay off these two buggers?
Kenya needs to sell a sovereign bond at the Irish Stock Exchange, where some Guinness-drinking rich guys will buy the bond and thus give us some $2 billion. We’ll take that, pay off some local banks some $600 million that they lent us, and use the rest to build roads, airports, hospitals and obviously pay off striking civil servant and the florists who supply bouquets to government offices.
What happens if we don’t pay seemed more dire. Our overburdened government would have to borrow from local banks to finance the gap in its Budget for next year, which means that the banks would drop that habit of looking up their clients’ phone numbers and their account flows and then calling to offer cheap loans.
Economists say that when banks start offering cheap loans, they are effectively shoving money down our pockets and making everybody rich, which means there is more money around and the economy can grow.