The Computer Society of Kenya

Since 1986

joemucherupxDAILY NATION By NATION REPORTER

Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has told media houses that he would not pay their Sh2.5 billion debt because Treasury has not given him the money.

The money owed through the Government Advertising Agency (GAA), has left the viability of some media houses and the livelihoods of thousands of journalists, who work under difficult circumstances to keep the country informed and the powerful in check, hanging precariously.

During a breakfast meeting on Tuesday with some media executives, the ICT Cabinet Secretary said GAA would not pay the money until it receives an allocation from Treasury.

He also said the debt was now under investigation, suggesting he could not progress with payments until detectives complete their work.

DEBTS ACCUMULATED

The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji last week instructed the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to investigate how the media services were procured and the debts accumulated.

It is understood that seven detectives are already at the ICT ministry perusing documents to ascertain whether money meant for media houses was actually diverted to Jubilee election campaigns last year, which was heavy on promotional merchandise, propaganda on digital platforms and billboard messaging.

It is not clear how effective the investigations will be given that they are being conducted while some officials who may be culpable are still in office.

“There is a lot of panic and possible destruction of potential evidence by some key players in the looting spree. Maybe the detectives should insist on their taking compulsory leave for the investigations to be credible,” a former ICT ministry official said. Among those lined up for interrogation are GAA, ICT and Treasury officials.

MEETING POSTPONED

A meeting called by owners of smaller media institutions Tuesday morning was postponed to last evening and no resolutions had been reached by the time of going to press.

The ICT ministry has been incurring debts since 2016, according to a letter by CS Mucheru to his Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich. The document indicates that the ministry owed media houses Sh434 million with Sh279 million already paid.

According to the CS, the deficit was brought about by unforeseen publicity needs, which included the Eurobond and urgent advertising from the National Land Commission, Teachers Service Commission and the ministries of Devolution and Land. It is this debt that has piled up to Sh2.5 billion.

Another debt unrelated to the GAA is that of Sh150 million owed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) since the 2013 General Election.

RATIONALISE ADVERTISEMENT

The centralisation of government advertisement was directed by the Cabinet Vide letter Ref OP/CAB.58/4A to rationalise advertising.

MyGov was to be published as a 30-page insert in newspapers (Daily Nation, The Star, The Standard and People Daily) with nationwide reach twice a month.

In the agreement with the media houses, MyGov was to pay for a full page advert at Sh734,000, a figure negotiated from the standardised rate of Sh1.5 million.

This was again renegotiated to about Sh20 million a week for each media house. MyGov is supposed to carry advertisements for all government ministries and agencies.

It remains to be seen whether President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has expressed resolve to fight corruption and impunity, will take any action.

Share this page