James Mburu, a former intelligence boss at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), is set to take over the corner office at Times Towers following his appointment by Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich yesterday.
Mr Mburu’s appointment was made public on the same day that President Uhuru Kenyatta renewed Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Patrick Njoroge’s term for a second and final four-year tenure.
The appointment of the two insiders signals continuity at the two crucial State institutions whose management has a huge bearing on the performance of the economy.
Until his appointment Thursday to one of Kenya’s most coveted public offices, Mr Mburu headed KRA’s covert intelligence arm, serving as the commissioner for Intelligence and Strategic Operations.
He will serve as KRA commissioner-general for a three-year term effective July 1, 2019. He beat four other candidates shortlisted for the top job last month. Their scores after the hotly-contested recruitment had not been made public by the time of going to press.
Mr Mburu’s appointment marks the end of outgoing commissioner-general John Njiraini’s seven-year stint at KRA. He takes over at a time when the agency is under pressure from the Executive to collect additional revenue.
“He needs to turn to technology and data analytics to curb tax evasion and expand the tax base,” said said Nikhil Hira, a tax expert and director at law firm Bowman’s Kenya.
He is also expected to instil harmony at the agency at a time when there is an ongoing re-organisation of KRA’s senior management team under the watch of Mr Francis Muthaura, the former head of Public Service, who was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to serve as KRA chairman until October 20, 2019.
KRA, which has perennially missed its targets, is facing a mountainous task of raising enough revenue to finance the government’s Sh2.9 trillion Budget to be presented in Parliament next week.
“(Mr Mburu) needs to revamp tax collection and work with Treasury to move to a consumption-tax paradigm away from the current penalising-system that is acting as a disincentive and hurting the lowest-earners,” said Deepak Dave, a risk management expert with Nairobi based Riverside Capital Advisory. “He also needs to rein in corruption in customs and at the Inland Container Depot.”
Mr Kenyatta announced Dr Njoroge’s re-appointment through a Special Gazette notice dated May 24, 2019 and issued yesterday morning. The President also renewed the terms of CBK deputy governor Sheila M’Mbijjewe and CBK board chairman Mohammed Nyaoga.
Dr Njoroge’s new four-year term is effective June 18,. The CBK boss, a former International Monetary Fund adviser, was appointed governor on June 26, 2015.
His four-year renewable term was set to end on June 19 this year. “…I Uhuru Kenyatta, President and Commander of the Republic of Kenya Defence Forces re-appoint Patrick Ngugi Njoroge to be the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya for a period of four years with effect from the 11th June 2019,” the notice published yesterday said.
Dr Njoroge, 58, will now serve until June 2023. He has a full in-tray at the regulatory agency.
He is expected to midwife the rollout of the new-look generation currency and reverse the private sector credit crunch amid the interest rates caps which has seen banks ration credit to small businesses.
“(Dr Njoroge) needs to get the economy growing, look at interest rate cuts soon; complete the consolidation and regulatory reform process for the banks; and advise and assist the government to get off the debt binge cycle,” said Mr Dave.