When the government of Kenya through the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) gave Kenyans with wealth abroad a tax amnesty, 16,000 Kenyans are said to have wired back 1.014 trillion shillings in an announcement made by KRA in May 2019.
But in the recent report by Kenya Revenue Authority, at least 896 billion shillings of the 1.014 trillion shillings repatriated by May 2019 cannot be traced by the authority, which leaves the question, where did the money go? Did the owners decide to “hide” it in cash?
In the recent report, KRA indicated that to August 30, only 118 billion shillings from 3,543 Kenyans could be confirmed as having been “repatriated” leaving out a variance of 896 billion shillings.
This is not the first time is uncertain of the repatriated funds into the country. In the past, the authority said that it was not aware whether the repatriated cash is used for developments within the country or shipped back to other offshore accounts.
The government through KRA gave Kenyans with cash stashed abroad a three-year amnesty window to ship their cashback without them being asked to state the source of the wealth or the accounts that the cash was originating from.
The essence of a tax amnesty for cash that is offshore is on the premise that the cash will be brought back into the country and invested in the economy on various projects, hence boosting the economy.
The amnesty was announced by the then Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich in 20186. The aim, according to Rotich was to attract wealthy Kenyans with billions of shillings in offshore accounts to have them back and invest in the economy.
In 2019, Mr. Rotich amended the law to give wealthy Kenyans to ship in their cash without being asked to explain the source of their cash. This was, however, seen as an avenue that the corrupt Kenyans could exploit to clean “dirty cash” earned through corruption.
Various reports have indicated that wealthy Kenyans, especially those with political connections often hide their cash in offshore accounts to avoid being questioned on the sources.