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By Jaymo Wa Thika

As citizens, we get so irritated when we see a police officer take that 50 bob from a matatu driver or a government officer taking a bribe from a private citizen to offer a services they are paid to do or even that person who bribes a “soldier” to jump the queue in the banking hall. 

At that particular moment, we view those people as very evil and as our real enemies. But in the real sense, they mirror what 99% of us would do if the mantle was bestowed on us. The truth is, it hurts us so much because at that particular moment, we are not the beneficiaries of the act. What hurts us most is because someone else is benefiting and not me.

When we look at all these people, we tend to talk so ill about them as though they were aliens, or a breed from another planet and not part of us. These are our brothers and sisters for crying out loud. They are us and a reflection of exactly who we are. 

Dishonesty is deeply rooted into our Kenyan DNA. In the society we live in, we must know of that shopkeeper who always cheats on the weights or the quality of the items they sell. We might know of that butcher who sells meat gotten from suspected sources including slaughtering dogs or cats. We also know of that matatu crew who will hike fares just because of a few drops of rain and so on. 

This is the kind of society we are living in. People are so dishonest and can do anything to earn money, even if it means killing a fellow human being with our greed. These are the same people running public office, private companies, in business and even in religious setups. 

But have you ever asked yourself what corruption does to our own economy and our own lives?

Businesses are unlikely to thrive in corrupt contexts. Practices such as fraud, bribery, extortion and embezzlement poison the business environment and corrode economies from within. Corruption is toxic to business. 

By investing the wrong way, investors actually harm the communities they serve. Investors who thrive in corrupt deals actually kill genuine businesses because such shortcuts evade certain costs that give them advantage over the genuine players. The genuine players are therefore unable to compete in the price offers thus forcing them out of business.

The misuse of an office for private gain leads to the needless inflation of production costs and thus greater operational inefficiency. Another problematic scenario occurs when government officials harass firms with costly "official" requests. Once businesses are locked in that hopeless situation, they tend to comply by way of offering kickbacks or bribes that comes in many shapes and forms. These outlays inflate labour and operational costs and in turn, create a less favorable business climate and ultimately serves as a serious drag on a nation's wealth.

When someone misappropriates money, say for a road, they eventually make the cost of production so high and eventually the cost of living since the ripple effect trickles down to the consumer.

People who misappropriate money meant for the health sector directly affect the general health of the people and in the long run, affects productivity and wealth creation.

In a nutshell, the impact of corruption on cost of doing business is extremely massive.  The problem is taking a toll on the business climate, national debt and public service delivery. Corruption inhibits private investment, reduces economic growth, increases the cost of doing business and can lead to political instability. 

The government weak implementation of the law meant to eliminate corruption is also wanting. However, a corrupt-free Kenya starts with me.

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