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POST-COVID

Only value for money budgeting, strict fiscal discipline will help revamp economy

RItualising of the budget proposal must end a

In Summary

• The measures announced by Treasury CS Ukur Yatani on Thursday prove insufficient unless we agree to a fiscal discipline hitherto unknown to the public sector.

•  The call for value for money budgeting has never assumed this urgency

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani at Parliament Buildings on June 11, 2020
BUDGET: Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani at Parliament Buildings on June 11, 2020
Image: FREDERICK OMONDI

This year's budget has been prepared against the background of great global economic shocks brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya's economic growth is now projected at a much lower rate of 2.5 per cent,down from the 2019 projection of 5.4 per cent. While there is optimism that once the partial lockdowns  and restrictions are eased,and the stimulus measures effected,then the pressure will be lifted off the economy, caution must be borne that recoveries will be painfully longer as the effects of the major disruptions will linger for months if not years.

The measures announced by Treasury CS Ukur Yatani on Thursday last week will, therefore, prove insufficient unless,for the first time, we agree to a fiscal discipline hitherto unknown to the public sector.

The call for value for money budgeting has never assumed this urgency.In the heat of the coronavirus pandemic, it was near impossible to get the input of the majority who were not following the budget process online.

However, even in normal times,  public participation in budget-making has largely remained a constitutional requirement bereft of any iota of practicability.The government is the biggest spender as it deals with many public expenditures but therein lies the biggest sucker of huge chunks of public resources being funnelled to line the pockets of some crooked government officials.

It is estimated that almost a third of the budget is lost yearly to wastage, pilferage and brazen theft. This ritualising of the budget proposal must end and a more focused, measurable and accountable process adopted to save the country from non-prioritised expenditures and spiralling debts.

Odhiambo Jamwa is an economic and political analyst