PRUDENCE

Treasury moves in to cull white elephant projects

The government has in recent times lost Sh72.5 billion in 545 stalled government projects valued at Sh365.9 billion.

In Summary

•The Projects Implementation Unit will come into full force in the beginning of the next financial year, starting July 1.

•It will be tasked with scrutinizing and costing all government projects , advice on actual costs and viability before funds are allocated.

President Uhuru Kenyatta accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta unveils a commemorative plaque during the launch of construction of JKIA-Westlands Expressway In October last year/
OVERDRIVE: President Uhuru Kenyatta accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta unveils a commemorative plaque during the launch of construction of JKIA-Westlands Expressway In October last year/
Image: PCSU

A  special unit is being put in place to monitor implementation of government projects to address the problem of incompletion, the National Treasury has announced.

National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani said the unit will help curb wastage of public funds in mega and white elephant projects, in the wake of a Sh72.5 billion loss in stalled developments.

He said the 'Projects Implementation Unit' will come into full force at the beginning of the next financial year, starting July 1.

It will be tasked with scrutinising and costing all government projects fronted for implementation by Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs), advice on actual costs and viability, before funds are allocated.

 

According to Treasury, the government has been pumping billions into poorly planned and inflated projects which are not realised or fail to give value for money.

This, even as the government remains indebted to creditors, lose money to contractors and fail to deliver its promises to Kenyans.

The unit will ensure details of pre-planning, feasibility, operating cost, commissioning, risk analysis, contingency, design, development and maintenance are in place before a project is approved.

“We are going to do our own costing to make sure that we spend money on well costed verified projects,” Yatani told journalists in Nairobi.

This will deal away with previous structures where MDAs would have the final plans for projects which would then be funded through Treasury without the government accountant's input.

“Those days are gone. We plan to undertake expenditure restructuring process which will ensure improved practices,” the CS affirmed.

He said supervision of projects will be heightened to ensure they are completed within their underlined time-lines.

 

“We have had a lot of infrastructure projects in the past where some get a lot of funding but fail even to take off. Or a project meant to take one year takes ten years. We incur costs on inflation and delays,” Yatani said.

The move is expected to put spending in mega projects on check even as the government comes to terms with the loss of Sh72.5 billion in 545 stalled government projects valued at Sh365.9 billion.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently ordered a freeze on new projects.

"There will be no new projects that will be embarked on until you complete those that are ongoing," the President directed.

Some of the stalled projects are heavily inclined towards the Big Four — healthcare, food security, manufacturing and housing, with their stalling threatening Uhuru's much sought legacy by end of 2022.

Most affected are irrigation projects where 193 have stalled in a Sh5.5 billion budget.

Two mega dam projects-the Badassa dam(Marsabit) and  Umaa Dam(Kitui) valued at Sh6.4 billion have also stalled since 2009.

Two key airports and four airstrips among them Wajir Airport upgrade, Wagadud Airstrip, Voi Ikanga Airstrip and Nanyuki Airstrip, stalled despite contractors pocketing more than Sh495.3 million.

44 key projects valued at Sh14.9 billion under the Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and urban Development Ministry also remain stalled despite contractors cashing in Sh10.1 billion.

Others are Sh43.02 billion worth of projects under the State Department for Crop Development where contractors pocketed Sh6.02 billion and the National Treasury and Planning which had Sh11.2 billion worth of stalled projects.

Development of Sh43.8 billion worth of projects at the Sports Ministry have also  stalled  despite the contractors and initial works gobbling Sh3.8 billion.

Twenty five stalled projects at 13 universities in the country have gobbled up Sh2.7 billion in a development budget of Sh6.1 billion, among other projects in different sectors.