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Budget shortfall clouds Uhuru's Big Four, Vision 2030

President Kenyatta's development legacy teetering on the brink of collapse as cash crunch takes toll

In Summary

•President Kenyatta has been banking on the Big Four plan to stamp his legacy but the same has been drowned in the cash crisis worsened by the country’s debt stress.

State jobs may continue to remain elusive in the face of the budget shortfall at the Public Administration and International Relations sector.

President Uhuru Kenyatta.
LEGACY IN JEOPARDY? President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Image: PSCU

The cash crunch in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration is again taking its toll as the government plans expenditure for the next three financial years.

Ministries, departments, and state agencies (MDAs) have decried a budget shortfall that clouds their efforts to help President Kenyatta actualise the Big Four and Vision 2030.

The situation is prevalent in all the Sector Working Groups (SWG) reports for the financial years 2020-21 to 2022-23 — phase three of Vision 2030.

This means intended projects in the health, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, education, commerce, and public administration sectors may not be realised.

The cash shortage is expected to feature in public discussions called by the National Treasury starting this Wednesday to chart the country’s budget for next fiscal year.

President Kenyatta has been banking on the Big Four plan to stamp his legacy but it appears to have been drowned in the cash crisis worsened by the country’s  debt stress.

Kenya owes lenders about Sh5.8 trillion and is currently faced with a Sh600 billion budget deficit, which is proving difficult to fund in the face of uncertain donor inflows.

Taking cognizance of various reported achieved targets for financial years 2016-17 to 2019-20, one can conclude that the two development plans remain a mirage.

For instance, the Energy, Infrastructure and ICT sector required Sh882 billion for financial year 2020-21 but has only been allocated Sh409 billion.

The sector expected Sh771 billion and Sh689 billion for the successive years but Treasury has set the ceilings at Sh435 billion and Sh442 billion, respectively.

At stake is the construction of at least 65,051 housing units; BRT infrastructure – including 48 stations and 60 kilometres of BRT lanes; 13 flagship markets; 2,964km high voltage transmission line, 21 substations, and 6,000km of roads.

Also in limbo are the construction of missing link roads to identified industrial parks, health centres and housing units; the first berth of the Lamu port; development of Naivasha Special Economic Zones; connectivity of the Big Four projects and providing digital services to schools.

During the period in question, the government intends to complete the Mombasa – Nairobi expressway, the standard gauge railway (only the single-gauge to Uganda) Konza city, Nairobi commuter rail, a cybersecurity research institute, as well as set a National Addressing System.

Also planned is operationalisation of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NaMATA), Ifmis rollout in subcounties and bolstering transport through Lake Victoria.

State jobs may continue to remain elusive in the face of the budget shortfall at the Public Administration and International Relations sector, hampering 33 other projects.

“The resource requirements versus the allocation translate to a resource shortfall of Sh114 billion, Sh113.6 billion and Sh126.2 billion in 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23, respectively,” the sector’s report reads.

The sector said the budget constraints “negatively impacted the implementation of planned programmes as well as contributed to a build-up of pending bills”.

The total resource requirement for the sector amount to Sh337.8 billion, Sh336.7 billion, and Sh351.2 billion, respectively, for the respective years under planning.

Funding shortages are also undermining against President Kenyatta’s food security agenda as the ministry failed to secure Sh175 billion it planned to spend.

For the three financial years, Treasury has set Sh101 billion as the ceiling for both development and recurrent expenditures for the Agriculture, Rural and Urban Development sector.

In financial year 2020-21, whose allocations are subject to public participation, the sector’s overall budget is Sh97 billion but only Sh48 billion has been allocated.

“This depicts a huge financing gap that should be sourced from outside the Sector in order to enable the realization of the ‘Big Four’ agenda,” the sector leaders advised.

The sector requires Sh74.0 billion, Sh68.4 billion and Sh58.1 billion in financial years 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23, respectively, but has been allocated Sh31.6 billion, Sh34.8 billion, and Sh35.1 billion, respectively.

In the face of Sh129 billion funding gap in the Education sector, the Jubilee administration has hinted it would shelve some projects, putting some CBC roll-out items on the backburner.

CS George Magoha’s Education ministry says it would prioritise examination fees, school feeding programmes, infrastructure, competency-based education and training (CBET) curriculum, and equipping 32 new vocational colleges.

This followed the Education sector’s failure to secure funding for phase three of Vision 2030 projects having secured only Sh487 billion, Sh507 billion, and Sh519 billion for the years in reference.

In the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector, the government has ring-fenced budgets for police modernisation, boundaries review, e-passports, and Huduma Namba.

Defined as strategic interventions, the police kitting programme and Huduma Namba is projected to be funded at Sh14 billion for the three financial years under study.

Treasury has also set  Sh640 million ceiling for e-passports, Sh300 million for legal compensation payouts, and Sh400 million for delimitation of boundaries.

Resources for environment, water, and natural resources projects were cut to Sh96.9 billion, Sh102.7 billion, and Sh105.3 billion for the respective fiscal years.

This was against the requirement for Sh162.9 billion, Sh198. billion and Sh220.9 billion, respectively, with sector players deploring the slashed allocations.

The environment sector faces climate change impacts, conflicts between counties and the national government on the share of natural resources, and understaffing worsed by an ageing workforce.

(Edited by V. Graham)