AUSTERITY MEASURES

Judiciary budget not yet in the clear as Yattani proposes new cuts

If MPs approve supplementary budget estimates, government budget will increase by Sh80 billion

In Summary

• PSC will be one of the greatest losers working without Sh6.4 billion from its budget meaning fewer trips for MPs and senators. 

• Vocational training, which is one of Uhuru’s main agenda, is likely to suffer a setback in the proposal to have its funding reduced by Sh450 million. 

Treasury buildings
SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET: Treasury buildings
Image: FILE

The Judiciary may not have the last laugh after all following the National Treasury's latest proposal to take austerity measures on state spending. 

In the face of criticism by Chief Justice David Maraga, CS Ukur Yattani has moved to slash the Judiciary's budget by Sh2.9 billion in supplementary estimates tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. 

The Judicial Service Commission has also suffered funding cuts amounting to Sh136 million in deductions which Yattani has grounded on the need to free more money for the Big Four projects. 

Should MPs approve the estimates, the Parliamentary Service Commission will be one of the greatest losers working without Sh6.4 billion from its budget. 

This is likely to mean there would be fewer trips for members and staff of the National Assembly and the Senate from the fund that facilitates the Houses’ operations. 

Parliament may also suffer cuts of Sh2.03 billion and the Senate (Sh793 million) even as Deputy President William Ruto’s office might lose Sh20 million and the Cabinet Affairs budget (Sh51 million). 

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office may gain an additional Sh39 million in the revised budget in which the National Treasury stares at cuts of Sh2.3 billion with its Planning counterpart (Sh5.6 billion).

Universities funding will also be cut by Sh1.9 billion and Tourism funding by Sh1.2 billion should MPs approve the estimates. The department of Public Service faces a Sh624 million cut. 

Vocational training, which is one of Uhuru’s main agenda, is likely to suffer a setback in the proposal to have its funding reduced by Sh450 million.

The Defence ministry will lose Sh119 million while the Forestry department has to make do without Sh90 million factored in its 2019-20 budget.

On the flip side, Yattani has increased the government's expenses by Sh80 billion setting the stage for a conversation on whether the austerity measures initiated last month are bearing fruits. 

This would mean that the government would have to devise mechanisms of raising the cash which follows an increment of the Parliament-approved Sh3.04 trillion to Sh3.13 trillion. 

Yattani, therefore, has options of getting inflows from donors through an appropriation in aid (AiA) or borrow the amounts to fit the development needs in the expanded budget. 

This has been made worse by the tough economic times which have caused an Sh84 billion shortfall in revenue of the projected Sh495 billion. Only Sh410 billion was realised between July and September. 

Already, the country’s debt has shot to Sh5.8 trillion; meaning more borrowing would simply subject Kenyans to more difficult days.

In the cuts, the Treasury has reduced recurrent expenses by Sh5.6 billion.

Constitutional commissions and independent offices have also suffered cuts amounting to almost Sh1 billion despite their meagre budgets as approved in June.  

The Controller of Budget has lost Sh64 million; National Police Service (Sh83 million); Commission on Revenue Allocation (Sh78 million); IEBC (Sh28 million); National Gender Equality Commission (Sh97 million); and IPOA (Sh61.5 million).

Even so, the Treasury has slashed funds allocated for population management services of Sh1.2 billion to cater for the financing of the National Integrated Identity Management (NIIMS). 

Other gainers in the adjustments are the Devolution ministry which has got Sh1.1 billion more for relief food and humanitarian assistance.

Yattani has equally set aside Sh2.7 billion more to cater of development of Arid and Semi-Arid regions and Sh2.8 billion for provisions of the Universal Health Coverage which is a key component of Uhuru’s Big Four agenda. 

The loan repayment for the Nairobi-Mombasa standard gauge railway will get an addition Sh16.7 billion in the proposed realignments.

Some Sh3.1 billion has been spared in favour of the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zones and for the Kenya Ferry Services which has been riddled by safety concerns lately. 

Simon Chelugui’s Water ministry may also gain big in the realignment which will grant it Sh7.2 billion to spend on Northern Collector Tunnel in Murang’a county if passed. 

Another Sh1.07 billion has been spared from the budget for the construction of peace dams in areas suffering conflicts as a result of water shortages. 

Funding for the Energy ministry may also increase to cater for the Lake Turkana Wind Power project and for alternative energy technologies. 

All the same, Treasury has, through budget rationalisation, managed to reduce ministry’s recurrent spending by Sh5.6 billion. 

However, experts are of the view that the cuts may not amount to any meaningful effect on the taxpayers in the face of the increased development expenditure. 

“The cuts have had no impact at all since there is no clear strategy of how the Treasury intends to meet the additional expense,” Minority leader Suba South MP John Mbadi said. 

Edited by R.Wamochie