Dr Julius Monzi Muia, a finance professional who rose to prominence during former President Mwai Kibaki’s era, is the new point man at the National Treasury.
President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday moved Dr Muia from the State Department of Planning where he has been the Principal Secretary (PS) since March last year to take the same position at the influential Ministry of Finance, replacing former office holder Kamau Thugge.
Labour Secretary Ukur Yatani was named as the acting Treasury Secretary, taking the place of Henry Rotich.
Both Mr Thugge and Mr Rotich were on Tuesday charged with a range of corruption offences related to the Sh63 billion Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal.
The duo were jointly charged with 24 other senior State officers. They are accused of paying in advance more than Sh19 billion for the multi-purpose dams whose construction is yet to start, and whose design maps were not even drawn at the time of award of the contract to Italian company CMC di Ravena.
As the senior-most substantive official at the Treasury, Dr Muia is expected to do the heavy lifting, fixing the nuts and bolts of the country’s economic nerve centre.
Torome Saitoti replaces Dr Muia at the State Department of Planning, with Mr Kenyatta also moving Gordon Kihalangwa from the post of Principal Secretary at the Department of Immigration to a similar role at the Ministry of Defence.
Dr Muia has extensive experience spanning three decades in academia, public service and the private sector.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (graduated with First Class Honours), an MBA and PhD in Finance, all from the University of Nairobi.
Starting off as a graduate assistant at the university in 1985, Dr Muia went on to hold a series of high profile finance jobs in the private sector before settling in public service while holding part-time lectures at Strathmore Business School.
His high academic qualifications, experience at the Planning ministry and previous role advising the Kibaki administration on management of the economy have put him in good stead to run the Treasury.
“Experience gained in a professional firm, various businesses and the public sector as well as engagements with development partner organisations has earned me a rich network of high-level connections and capacity to deal with diverse assignments,” Dr Muia says on his LinkedIn profile.
He served as the Secretary & CEO of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) from 2008 to 2016.
NESC is a government think tank formed by Kibaki’s government in 2004 and which has been credited with the country’s economic transformation over the past 15 years.
Inheriting an economy that was growing at an anaemic one percent, Mr Kibaki’s administration would go on to lift domestic output to highs of seven percent in 2007.
This ushered in a new era of prosperity, marked by higher tax collections and improved living standards as measured by GDP per capita and expansion of education opportunities and infrastructure like roads.
The Kibaki era’s fast economic growth was characterised by relatively lower levels of borrowing and donor aid.
The NESC, tasked with crafting national policies and strategies, draws its membership from experts in various fields including business, economics and social sciences.
Mr Yatani, the former governor of Marsabit County, has more than 25 years’ experience serving in the public sector and at international organisations including various arms of the United Nations.
A holder of a Masters of Arts in Public Administration and Public Policy (University of York, UK) and Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology (Egerton University), he has also served as a Member of Parliament and Kenya’s ambassador to Austria.
The new appointees take over at the Treasury at a time when there is a sharp focus on the integrity of public officials.
Their predecessors also boasted high academic qualifications but were felled by corruption charges, keeping with a trend that goes back decades.
“I promise to do my best in order to realise dreams of transforming this nation. I’ll continue supporting the President in my new role and work with my colleagues in Cabinet as we steer towards realisation of a prosperous nation,” Mr Yatani said in a press statement Thursday.
“I’m alive to the fact that the task ahead is enormous and expectations are very high on the part of Kenyans … my appointment coming at a time when there are issues that deal with governance. I’ll do my level best to ensure that there is discipline at all levels.”
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