The long-serving Commissioner General of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) John Njiraini is on the spot for defying the board on his overdue retirement while blackmailing President Uhuru Kenyatta that he “needs time” to recover his hefty financial donation to the Jubilee campaign.
Njiraini controversially joined the Friends of Jubilee Foundation (FJF) which raised billions of shillings for President Uhuru Kenyatta re-election.
The KRA boss is enlisted as a board member of the foundation as well as a signatory to FJF’s bank accounts which is contrary to provisions of Kenya’s Public Officers Ethics Act and the Public Officer and Integrity act which prohibit public servants engaging in partisan politics.
Njiraini is presently fighting a suit in court intended to force him to retire from his plum post upon turning 60 years of age.
Court papers suggest that the KRA Board is so intimidated by the well connected Njiraini that it has not even started procedures for replacement of its poweful CEO including sending Njiraini on terminal leave.
Njiraini has been at the helm of KRA since March 2012, when President Uhuru Kenyatta, then Finance minister, controversially appointed him. Before his appointment, Njiraini was the authority’s Commissioner of domestic taxes.
The iron-fisted Njiriani has been variously accused of presiding over the KRA through financial mismanagement, corruption, tribalism and cronyism.
While Kenya government has been reporting economic and GDP growth over the years, tax collection has not shown commensurate growth, thanks to systematic and massive tax evasion and shenanigans run by the powerful, well-connected cartel that Njiraini has put in place at KRA.
Njiraini’s powerful cartel literally straddles all sectors of Kenya: issuing permits selectively and corruptly; collecting taxes selectively through bribery and extortion networks; surreptitiously running transit toll stations with proceeds being diverted into dark alleys; directly pilfering the customs system by running parallel conflict-of-interest container freight stations that control smuggling of counterfeit merchandise and illicit narcotics; unscrupulously siphoning parallel VAT refund claims using fake VAT claim forms; and a plethora of such vices.
Njiraini has also been taken to court in a vicious succession battle currently playing out within the KRA. Njiraini was accused of trying to midwife his succession by creating from creating a hitherto non-existing position of Commissioner, Intelligence and Strategic Operations and subsequent appointment of James Githii Mburu as its head.
This was being interpreted as a move to influemce his succession so that his cartels can remain in place and consequently so that he can continue to corruptly earn from the systems he put in place.
Njiraini’s corruption has direct consequences in the real Kenyan world. Only last month the World Bank declared Kenya’s tax revenue growth the lowest in a decade.
In its report, the global lender harshly indicted Njiriani as the worst KRA Commissioner who oversaw widespread tax evasion in conspiracy with junior tax officials.
The indictment by the World Bank was based on the stark fact that while more goods and services have been increasingly traded in Kenya, less of these economic activities have been taxed.
Throughout 2017, aware that KRA was going to fall short of tax collection targets, Njiriani attempted to preempt the negative publicity with one of the most expensive and poorly thought-out public relations campaigns on mass media.
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