The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has come under fire from critics in Kenya for approving a $2.34 billion three-year financing package for the East African country.
The critics, who say they don’t want any more loans for their government as a lot of the cash will be embezzled by state officials, are signing online petitions to IMF, Bloomberg reported at the weekend.
“Previous loans to the Kenya government have not been prudently utilised and have often resulted in megacorruption scandals,” according to one petition created on April 4 that had about 232,000 signatures by Friday morning.
“IMF can and should do the right thing: withhold the funds until the next, hopefully more accountable, government is elected into office next year,” it added.
Several petitioners referred to remarks earlier this year by President Uhuru Kenyatta that as much as two billion shillings ($18.6 million) is stolen from government coffers daily, as reported in local media.
The negative publicity will be a concern for IMF, according to Churchill Ogutu, head of research at Nairobi-based Genghis Capital Ltd. He said: “The timing could not have been worse with IMF and World Bank spring meetings this week and all the comments on the Fund’s socials are from Kenyans.
“I doubt the IMF debt can be called back, which is the main aim of the campaign, but it could ultimately lead to greater transparency from government in terms of debt accumulation.”
IMF said in a statement last week that somee austerity would be required of Kenya, where public debt is expected to peak at 73 per cent of gross domestic product in 2022-23.
The programme will advance the structural reform and governance agenda and strengthen transparency and accountability through the anti-corruption framework, according to the lender.
Government spokesman, Cyrus Oguna, declined to comment on the allegations in the petitions and referred Bloomberg to an April 7 National Treasury statement that said an interest-free IMF loan at the start of the pandemic tided the nation over.