Njoroge formally takes over at CBK

02 Jul 2015 | by David Karani
Njoroge formally takes over at CBK

Dr Patrick Ngugi Njoroge officially assumed office as Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya last Monday which saw the shilling strengthen.

The shilling has hovered at the exchange rate of sh100 to the dollar causing panic in the economy at a time when the country is facing a myriad of problems.

The tourism sector, which is kenya's highest exchange earner has been in the doldrums since UK and American governments gave travel advisories for various destinations in Kenya.

The price of tea and coffee, the other key foreign exchange earners, has been on the downward trend.

Equally performing below its capacity is the horticultural sector which has been affected by world economy.

But things seem to be looking up for Kenya in the tourism sector after travel advisories for the entire coast region was lifted by both Britain and US.

The visit by US president Barrack Obama later in the month is also expected to give Kenya a major boost in terms of trade and tourism.

But it is the naming of a substantive governor that seems to have spurred the shilling to strengthen in the last week. And the new man promises a new style of leadership.

Whereas previous occupants of the office have lived ostentatiously, Dr Njoroge plans to upset the apple cart by living a simple life.

The man in charge of Kenya’s money will not occupy the palatial home in Nairobi’s Muthaiga or ride the limousines at his disposal.

The governor will instead be housed in communal accommodation in Nairobi’s Loresho estate with his fellow members of Opus Dei, an order of the Catholic church. The order teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. Most of its members are lay people, with secular priests under a bishop.

Dr Njoroge will also forego hawk-eyed security guards that come with office.

The new CBK boss shocked MPS when he disclosed that he was still a bachelor at 54 years and that he had no single asset in Kenya yet his previous salary was in excess of sh3 million every month.

He told the MPs that his lifestyle was a matter of choice and there was nothing unusual about it.

In a country where appointment to public office is associated with opulence, demand for higher pay and motorcades, Dr Njoroge’s decision to pass up a chance to live in a house on two acres located in the city’s most exclusive suburb is a rare one.

MPs approved his nomination, paving the way for his appointment, but not before making unsavoury and derisory offers to get him a wife.

The position of governor also comes with other trappings of power. The immediate occupant, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, had at his disposal the Mercedez Benz, a Range Rover, Volkswagen Passat, a chase car, two armed guards and a driver.

The new governor has also indicated that he will be an independent minded man. During his vetting he said  that he considers Kenya’s external borrowing excessive saying the country must be careful in considering more debt and where the money was going.

This contradicted the National Treasury position which is that the country’s borrowing is healthy and within the limits.

He also dismissed proposals by MPs to form a government bank to give cheaper loans and bring interest rates down or simply introduce legislation to control bank lending rates.

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