EXPERT COMMENT

WANJIRU GIKONYO: CS's sweet narrative leaves many questions unanswered

A Sh3.3 trillion budget at a time of rising global prices and upcoming elections is grossly misplaced

In Summary

•A Sh3.3 trillion budget at a time of rising global prices and upcoming elections is grossly misplaced.

• All in all, the sweet narrative presented by the CS leaves many questions unanswered. Budget realism remains a challenge.

The 2022-23 budget reading comes at a time when the cost of living and the cost of fuel is high.

The country has also been hit by drought, high cost of farm inputs, growing food insecurity and poverty.

In its 2022 report, the Budget and Appropriations Committee candidly warned of the risk of deepening poverty and debt distress. Has Treasury done enough or is it business as usual?

Some gains emerge on taxation in efforts to lower the cost of production for local manufacturers.

This is timely given that manufacturing and regional competitiveness have been on the decline over the last five years due to the high cost of input and taxation.

This appears to be a good start, although more needs to be done to enhance the competitiveness of Kenyan goods.

Devolved governments and the education sector are major beneficiaries.

The national share to counties hits the 27 per cent mark, although the present reality is a delay in the transfer of the county share of the revenue.

The 2021 budget slashed spending on tertiary education institutions but reversed this trend against a public outcry.

All in all, the sweet narrative presented by the CS leaves many questions unanswered. Budget realism remains a challenge.

A Sh3.3 trillion budget at a time of rising global prices and upcoming elections is grossly misplaced.

The Treasury targets additional Sh50 billion to finance this budget, a huge chunk of which is going into presidential legacy projects.

The government should also expect push back on a proposal to restructure KQ at a time when the Privatisation Commission has been appointed to support the sale of these cash guzzlers.

The Treasury has roundly ignored Parliament’s recommendations on the budget and debt cap, bringing into focus Parliament’s role as a budget-making organ.

It is not clear if Treasury has complied with the Budget and Appropriations Committee’s budget transparency demands on pending bills, state-owned enterprises loans, cash transfer scheme, ongoing projects, debt register, loan commitment fees etc.

The role of Parliament as a budget-making organ is more tenuous than ever. It remains to be seen if Parliament will assert itself during the appropriation process.

The Treasury proposes to finance the deficit through increased domestic borrowing. Will reforms keep pace with spending needs to take the sting out of domestic borrowing?

In an electoral suicidal move, the Treasury ignored calls for exemptions on basic foodstuff, leaving households to grapple with food insecurity. We can only hope that Parliament will correct this in the coming weeks.

She is the executive director at The Institution of Social Accountability

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