REVIEW

Yatani budget, growth prospects unrealistic - MPs

Budget and Appropriations Committee say 2020-21 estimates do not address Covid19 pandemic budget needs

In Summary

• Council of Governors to get Sh100 million for operations from the national government for the first time.

•Nominated senators also gain in first-ever allocation of Sh170 million to fund their operations at counties. 

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani and other Ministry of Finance officials.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani and other Ministry of Finance officials.
Image: FILE

Lawmakers have dismissed the National Treasury’s budget estimates for the next financial year as unrealistic and inadequate to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Budget and Appropriations Committee cited what it called the Exchequer’s failure to capture the magnitude of the crisis.

The Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah-led committee said it is uncomfortable with the “business as usual” approach in the estimates.

 

MPs said it was “extremely disappointing” there is insufficient allocation to revamp healthcare, address health workers’ concerns and protect livelihoods—including funds for recovery post-Covid-19.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently unveiled a Sh53.7 billion economic stimulus package to create jobs for the youth.

The BAC also took issue with the Treasury for basing the country’s economic growth on 4.2 per cent without factoring in the impact of the pandemic.

The committee, in its report on the 2020-21 budget estimates, said it was wrong for Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani to base it on past investment decisions such as the Big Four.

“This is despite the fact that investments under Big Four projects are not substantive enough to offset the rapid fall in private sector investment, hence, may not be a strong driver of economic recovery next year,” the MPs said.

The report will be debated on Tuesday to pave way for the CS to present the estimates on Thursday.

Minority leader John Mbadi said the figures in the report cannot be altered once it is adopted, except through an amendment to the Appropriations Bill. “We strived to reach consensus with the Treasury before the report was tabled. We agreed that the Appropriation Bill be based on the report so that it is tidy,” he said.

 

On Covid-19, the committee said it was wrong to fund ongoing and new public investments “while leaving Covid-19 interventions to the Emergency Response Fund chaired by KBL MD Jane Karuku”.

In this regard, the Budget team has instituted further funding cuts and reallocations to cater for Covid-19 budget needs during and post-pandemic.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations got a shot in the arm with an additional Sh300 million to boost operations. BAC allocated the Administration Police an additional Sh158 million to boost its operations and complete stalled projects.

To turn around the country’s dwindling fortunes, the legislators say a strong, well-funded and multi-sectoral economic stimulus programme will suffice.

Also okayed by the committee is Treasury’s Sh24 billion allocation to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services. MPs have approved Sh1.88 trillion for ministries, state departments, and agencies.

Next year’s total expenditure stands at Sh2.73 trillion; factoring in Sh316.5 billion for counties and Sh584 billion for development.

Outstripping the development budget is Sh904 billion for public debt, creating a deficit of about Sh823 billion to be funded by borrowing.

BAC has approved Sh37.7 billion for Parliament; Judiciary gets Sh18.05 billion, while the Executive has been provided Sh1.83 trillion.

The budget team has also proposed to increase the CDF allocation by Sh9 billion, saying the Sh32.7 billion is below the statutory requirement.

Also fronted is Sh1.05 billion allocation to the Constituency Development Fund board and Sh170 million for nominated senators – a first.

The Council of Governors will also – for the first time – be funded by the Exchequer at Sh100 million for operations.

“The CoG is a national government organ. It will be run by funds from the national government to cushion counties from audit queries,” Mbadi said.

Counties have been contributing to the council, albeit with concerns of the legality of their subscriptions. It is ever queried by the Auditor General.

The IEBC will get Sh4.4 billion for its routine activities and Sh259 million for the boundary review. No cash is allocated for a referendum based on Building Bridges Initiative recommendations.

The presidency’s budget is at Sh36.6 billion; NIS (Sh39.05 billion); EACC (Sh3.1 billion); DPP (Sh3.08 billion) and the Auditor General (Sh5.2 billion).

MPs have approved Sh131 billion for the Interior ministry; Defence (Sh115 billion); Foreign Affairs (Sh15.8 billion); Correctional Services (Sh28 billion) and Sh5.7 billion to Devolution docket.

The Teachers Service Commission has been provided Sh266 billion; vocational training Sh24 billion; university education (Sh113.3 billion); basic education (Sh100.7 billion) and Sh150 million for post-training skills.

The National Treasury will receive Sh116 billion; Planning Sh45.6 billion; Infrastructure (Sh189 billion) and Environment (Sh16.1 billion).

New KCC will get Sh200 million for purchase of milk sterilisers and Sh100 million for external trade promotion.

The Water ministry will be provided Sh77.7 billion; Energy (Sh72.5 billion); Crop development (Sh41.8 billion); Social protection (Sh33.6 billion); Tourism (Sh12.8 billion) and Wildlife (Sh10.8 billion).

On cuts, Parliament’s Sh2.6 billion has been slashed from its travel – foreign and domestic, hospitality and operations budgets.

The Inspector General of Police has lost Sh218 million; the Subcounty Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (Sh100 million); KPS Quarter Master (Sh300 million) and NTSA (Sh100 million).

Lawmakers have also deducted Sh500 million, which had been set aside for Huduma Namba.

The Interior ministry is set to lose another Sh900 million, which includes Sh600 million under the vote of “other operating expenses”.

Also slashed from the Fred Matiang'i-led ministry is Sh100 million for foreign travel; Sh100 million for multi-agency security operations and Sh100 million for regional security coordination.

The report was drawn up by MPs Ichung’wah, Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), John Mbadi (Suba South), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), Samuel Moroto (Kapenguria), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), James Gakuya (Embakasi North) and Makali Mulu (Kitui Central).

Other members who signed are Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani), Muchiri Nyaga (Manyatta), Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town), Korei Lemein (Narok South), Sarah Korere (Laikipia North), Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale), Dan Mwashako (Wundanyi), Fatuma Gedi (Garissa Woman Representative), Florence Bore (Kericho), Gichuki Mugambi (Othaya), John Mutunga (Tigania West), Mark Nyamitta (Uriri), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Qalicha Wario (Moyale) and Wangari Mwaniki (Kigumo).

The allocation of Sh100 million for ID cards has been dropped, as is Sh30 million for the deputy IG’s operations and Sh30 million for GSU headquarters.

Sh900M FOR DESKS AND CLASSROOM

Also slashed is Sh150 million in recurrent allocations to Kephis (Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services); Sh20 million for aflatoxin management and Sh30 million for biogas projects.

In addition, the BAC has proposed Sh435 million for construction of subcounty headquarters and facilitation of their operations.

Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital has been allocated Sh200 million to put up a cardiac laboratory.

Polls agency IEBC, in the adjusted estimates, has been allocated Sh300 million for pending bills owed to suppliers as well as legal costs.

The Office of Registrar of Political Parties is to receive Sh200 million for payment of court awards – drawn from the Political Parties’ Fund.

The Budget committee also approved Sh1.2 billion to the National Treasury for public participation and Sh720 million for the People Living with Disability office.

Parliamentarians have also proposed Sh490 million more for water harvesting and storage for irrigation at the household level.

The committee has proposed Sh900 million to the Education ministry to provide desks and build classrooms under the stimulus programme.

Small universities are tipped to receive Sh200 million more for infrastructure projects and Sh300 million to seal the funding gap for  varsity students.

Electricity transmission projects worth about Sh1 billion have been dropped while Sh694 million has been provided for petroleum exploration.

MPs have also allocated Sh152 million to the Lake Basin Development Authority for settling dues to retrenched staff, medical cover and taxes due.

The Lands ministry has been allocated Sh100 million for construction and digitisation of land registries.

Sh60 million is provided for completion of the education complex at Bukura Agricultural College; Sh50 million for the Mau Mau buffer tea zone; Sh50 million for constructing warehouses and Sh35 million for ADC recurrent expenses.

MPs have also proposed Sh100 million to the Kenya National Farmers Federation for registration of farmers.

The BAC has also allocated Sh1.3 billion to the Transport ministry for strategic roads.

The Media Council of Kenya is set to get Sh221 million for Covid-19 interventions.

The monies, the report reads, are for scaling up awareness and support community radios, as well as countering fake news.

MPs have also included in the budget Sh5 billion in donor funds for the Konza Data Centre and Smart City project and Sh1.8 billion to expand fibre optic cable network.

The Public Service Commission is set for Sh500 million more to recruit an additional 3,000 interns and Sh200 million for police counselling.

New KCC will get Sh200 million for purchase of milk sterilisers and Sh100 million for external trade promotion.

Also dropped is Sh260 million for Geothermal exploration in the Rift Valley; Sh104 million for coal and Sh155 million for nuclear exploration.

Electricity transmission projects worth about Sh1 billion have been dropped while Sh694 million has been provided for petroleum exploration.

ASAL development is set for a Sh2.5 billion boost for response to displacement by floods.

Another Sh2.5 billion has been recommended to the Water ministry for irrigation and land reclamation – on account of community-based irrigation.

The Soin-Koru dam water supply project is set for Sh1 billion while the Infrastructure department has been allocated Sh1.6 billion more.

To turn around the country’s dwindling fortunes, the legislators say a strong, well-funded and multi-sectoral economic stimulus programme will suffice.