EU delays $22 million refund to Kenya for Somalia military operation


By Njirani Muchra | Business Daily, Kenya December 29, 2016

The European Union (EU) has delayed refunds for Kenyan troops fighting Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia amid claims of a verification hitch.


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Treasury documents show that Kenya has only received Sh198 million from the EU in the five months to May against an annual target Sh6.4 billion.


The reimbursement is scheduled quarterly and the Treasury had expected to be refunded at least Sh3 billion by now.
Before September, the last refund had come in February. The slow release of the funds comes at a moment when state revenue, especially taxes, is trailing targets.


Kenya received Sh4.2 billion from the UN in the first seven months of the last financial year against a claim of Sh6.4 billion, meaning the country is owed Sh2.2 billion from the previous financial year.


The Treasury did not explain the delay, but earlier reports by the BBC indicated that payments for the 22,000-strong African Union force (Amisom) were being withheld over “accounting issues”.


Nearly 4,000 Kenyan soldiers are part of Amisom and the international community provides $1,028 (Sh103, 828) for each Amisom soldier each month; their respective governments then deduct about $200 (Sh20,200) for administrative costs meaning the soldiers take home about $800 (Sh83, 628).


The soldiers receive the allowances through the government. The funds are only released to Amisom by the EU once accounts from the previous payment are signed off.


Kenya has previously faced delay in reimbursement of the money, which was linked to the UN’s insistence on verification of the claims.


In October 2011, Kenya formally sent 4,660 soldiers to Somalia after incessant attacks and kidnapping of civilians by Al-Shabaab militants within its territory.


A year later, the UN Security Council gave Kenya the green light to join the African Union Mission to Somalia, a decision that meant the Treasury would not bear the full costs of the incursion.


Amisom is an eight-year-old operation drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.


Kenya has in the past used its ambassador to the UN, Macharia Kamau, to demand the reimbursements, saying that failure to refund was “unacceptable.”


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