Kenyans Need To Benefit From Trillion Budget
The 2012/2013 budget at a whopping Sh1,45 Trillion like in all previous years does NOT support the building of a fair and inclusive society; one year from today, poor Kenyans will remain just that; poor! Those that were on the low income ten years ago are still on the on fringes of the economy ten years later. Not every Kenyan is benefiting from the progress of the nation. To realize our vision, we need to create more opportunities for lower income Kenyans, the youth and senior citizens and provide help for those on hard times.
The budget at Sh1,450 Trillion is significant in comparison to other sub-Sahara Africa countries. Credit goes to President Kibaki for more than tripling the national budget since taking office. Though a mind boggling sum, the budget translates to a paltry spend of Sh38,160 per citizen per year and compared to Sh343,170 per citizen for many middle income countries.
Worse still, the budget is based on faulty promises that the exchange rate, interest rates and inflation will remain constant. These and the coming general election will bring serious disruption on the revenue side of the budget. It will be a miracle if this budget is realised as proposed, we are already seeing the pressure on the exchange rate.
But as an accountant I keep asking; what have Kenyans obtained from the Kibaki budgets? Except for infrastructural development projects (roads and electricity) there is really nothing to boast of as more than half the budget is misapplied, misappropriated or totally wasted. Uncoordinated spending; so called “fish ponds and centers of excellence” will not get Kenyans out of the poverty trap. Spending plans alone without structural reforms will not make Kenya a middle income country.
We cannot attain the MDG status without reforming and re-aligning all spheres of government operations. Our first task is to upgrade and restructure our economy, so that we can grow by becoming more productive, and can rely less on imports. Secondly we must upscale investments in a multi face IT platform interconnecting core sectors of government such as the police, registration of citizens, taxes, banking, drivers, passport office, such that every citizen can be linked across all areas.
When you have Kenya Revenue Authority dealing with numbers plates and drivers licenses, you clearly see why taxes are flat. It is rather obvious majority of Kenyans in the informal sector pay no taxes besides the indirect ones. Personal Income Tax and Corporation tax has the potential to more than double the current collections, just look at the Tiger economies of Asia.
We are spending billions in Somalia rather than transforming the immigration department into a modern day “Border Force”, we are spending billions on roads, yet most of our city roads are terrifyingly appalling. We are spending billions everywhere yet law enforcement and compliance by citizens to the rule of law is at an all time low. We talk billions but no investments worthy of note in the water sector, our cities have no water and it is getting worse. By 2030, the City of Nairobi will still be reliant on existing water reservoirs, rather than drilling boreholes in NEP, Nairobi has become the biggest market for water drillers.
At Sh1,450 billion, the budget would have achieved more if Treasury got more generation Y (the youth) among them; they know the future they want and will make the investments for it today. The way I see it ‘the budget as proposed remains just a spending plan, it does not address itself properly to our future needs but to our immediate wants’ Rashid Mohamed is a council member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya