Trea­sury dis­owns eCit­i­zen com­pany

Business Daily (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - Bwa­suna@ke.na­tion­media.com

The Trea­sury has dis­owned a firm that was con­tracted to col­lect rev­enue on its be­half from ecit­i­zen users, deep­en­ing the mys­tery of how a pri­vate com­pany took over a role or­di­nar­ily han­dled by the KRA.

Trea­sury prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary Ka­mau Thugge has in fresh court pa­pers stated that the gov­ern­ment did not au­tho­rise any pri­vate firm to re­ceive ecit­i­zen pay­ments on its be­half.

Gol­drock Cap­i­tal has sued the Trea­sury and Web­mas­ters Kenya, which de­vel­oped ecit­i­zen por­tal, for deny­ing it ac­cess to the web­site’s mo­bile money (M-pesa) pay­bill num­ber that re­ceives mil­lions of shillings ev­ery day from Kenyans seek­ing gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

ecit­i­zen is an on­line por­tal through which the gov­ern­ment pro­vides es­sen­tial ser­vices such as ap­pli­ca­tions

for pass­ports, driv­ing li­cences, busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cates, ve­hi­cle log­books and ti­tle deeds.

Gol­drock has since 2014 col­lected over Sh5.6 bil­lion un­der the ecit­i­zen plat­form.

The firm has also en­joined Sa­fari­com in the suit.

The Kenya Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (KRA) is the pri­mary agency autho­rised by law to col­lect rev­enue on be­half of the gov­ern­ment.

Any other agency per­form­ing the rev­enue col­lec­tion role re­quires Par­lia­ment’s ap­proval or ap­point­ment by the Trea­sury sec­re­tary.

Dr Thugge now says the Trea­sury only autho­rised Web­mas­ters Kenya to train gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to han­dle the pay­ment por­tal hence any con­tract pur­port­ing to hire an­other firm for col­lec­tion of rev­enue is null and void.

The ecit­i­zen por­tal was de­vel­oped in 2013 with fund­ing from the World Bank’s pri­vate lend­ing arm IFC and other donors.

“I am aware that the gov­ern­ment has not autho­rised Gol­drock Cap­i­tal to col­lect the con­ve­nience fee or oth­er­wise de­rive any re­mu­ner­a­tive ben­e­fit from any trans­ac­tion car­ried out through the ecit­i­zen por­tal. I am aware that Gol­drock Cap­i­tal is not autho­rised by the CS, Na­tional Trea­sury to col­lect rev­enue for and on be­half of the gov­ern­ment,” Dr Thugge says in his re­sponse.

Web­mas­ters Kenya has also de­nied sub­con­tract­ing Gol­drock to col­lect money paid for gov­ern­ment ser­vices through ecit­i­zen.

“There is no priv­ity of con­tract be­tween Gol­drock Cap­i­tal and Web­mas­ters Kenya. Gol­drock Cap­i­tal has not demon­strated ei­ther by ad­duc­ing ev­i­dence or by af­fi­davit ev­i­dence that it has a re­la­tion­ship with Web­mas­ters Kenya or that Web­mas­ters Kenya has been or is in con­trol of pay­bill 206206 hence there is no dis­closed cause of ac­tion against Web­mas­ters Kenya,” Web­mas­ters Kenya says.

Gol­drock says it was sub­con­tracted by Web­mas­ters Africa Limited on be­half of Web­mas­ters Kenya Limited. But Web­mas­ters Kenya now says it has no re­la­tion­ship with Web­mas­ters Africa and has never hired Gol­drock Cap­i­tal to col­lect rev­enue from the ecit­i­zen plat­form. De­spite the de­nial, court records in­di­cate that Web­mas­ters Kenya’s CEO James Ayugi dou­bles up as Web­mas­ters Africa’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, point­ing at an own­er­ship or man­age­rial link be­tween the two soft­ware de­vel­op­ment firms.

In Web­mas­ters Africa’s re­ply­ing af­fi­davit, Mr Ayugi ad­mits that the firm sub­con­tracted Gol­drock to col­lect money paid to the ecit­i­zen plat­form, but says the deal would ex­pire in the event that the gov­ern­ment is­sued a bind­ing direc­tive re­lat­ing to the pay­ment por­tal.

Dr Thugge, how­ever, in­sists that the con­tract be­tween Gol­drock and Web­mas­ters is il­le­gal as col­lec­tion of rev­enue on be­half of the gov­ern­ment re­quires au­tho­ri­sa­tion from Trea­sury CS Henry Rotich.

Gol­drock Cap­i­tal had ob­tained a court judg­ment al­low­ing it ac­cess to Sh127 mil­lion that it had col­lected be­fore be­ing locked out of the Mpesa pay­bill ac­count in April.

Web­mas­ters Kenya, Sa­fari­com and the Trea­sury have chal­lenged the judg­ment, ar­gu­ing that Gol­drock hood­winked Jus­tice Fred Ochieng into reach­ing the de­ci­sion.

The gov­ern­ment has not autho­rised Gol­drock Cap­i­tal to col­lect the con­ve­nience­fee” KA­MAU THUGGE | TREA­SURY PS

DIANA NGILA

DE­NIAL Dr Ka­mau Thugge, Trea­sury PS. Brian Wa­suna

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