The Ministry of Finance in Kenya estimates that up to a third of the national budget is being swallowed by corruption.
Officials have told a parliamentary committee that the losses could be almost $4 billion per year due to individuals were taking huge sums meant for development projects.
Kitu kidogo - Swahili for "something small" - is how kickbacks are commonly described in Kenya.
Taking 10% of an awarded tender or inflating project costs is said to be the commonest means of dipping into government coffers.
The BBC reports corruption has been the Achilles heel of successive Kenyan regimes.
But the efforts of a newly-appointed anti-corruption commissioner - who now has the power to prosecute individuals - are causing ripples in government quarters.