What Kenyans should expect from Rotich’s budget
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich will on Wednesday make the third pose with the black briefcase for the traditional budget photo outside Parliament.
Inside the August House will be a considerable attendance by MPs, almost a full house waiting to know how the government will be spending the Sh2.3 trillion allocated for the year 2016/2017.
Inside his briefcase though, there will be details of how, the many Kenyans who will be glued to TV screens and sitting beside radio sets, will participate in footing the bill.
Key among the many ‘hows’ the public will be keen to see is how the pro–production, pro–poor budget with many cuts ended up with an increased bottom line on total expenditure.
It will also be interesting to see how the government will be asking to allocate more money than it plans to spend, a picture that already played out in the first half of the current financial year.
“The total cumulative expenditures for the first half of the financial year amounted to Sh769.2 billion against a target of Sh997.2 billion. The shortfall of Sh228.1 billion was attributed to lower spending by National Government of Sh35.8 billion and Sh139.2 billion in recurrent and development expenditures categories respectively as well as Sh50.5 billion shortfalls in transfer to the devolved units,” Mr Rotich explained in the Budget policy statement released in January.
The budget covering the longer half of the year towards a general election is bound to contain a sweetened mixture of what government has done and what it will be doing in the near future.
GROSS DOMESTIC GROWTH
Mr Rotich will begin by expressing confidence in the ‘robust ‘state of the economy with a Gross Domestic Growth 5.9 percent last year, 6.3 per cent projected in this year and 6.4 per cent by the 2018/19 financial year.
Since the budget will be bloated on infrastructure, he will proceed to highlight the achievements in the implementation of road rehabilitation and construction in the road sector.
That the government has constructed 1,039.9km of new roads, rehabilitated 799km of roads, maintained 194,981km and 3,615.8km of roads under routine and periodic maintenance respectively will most likely appear in the script.
The CS will not forget to state that design of 1,068km of roads and construction of 30 bridges has been completed as other major projects including the Northern Corridor Transport Improvement Project (NCTIP), Decongestion of Cities and Urban Areas, improvement of roads in cities and Urban Areas, rehabilitation of Access roads and LAPSSET project are in plan
“In a bid to decongest major urban centres the Government will continue with the expansion of major roads in urban centres, such as the Outering road in Nairobi. In order to boost regional trade, the Government will prioritize the construction of the East Africa Road Network (Voi-Mwatate-Wundanyi and Malindi-Mombasa-LungaLunga road sections), the construction of Kisumu-Kakamega road under the Kenya Transport Sector Support Programme and the construction of the 600Km South Sudan Link road,” Mr Rotich said in January. No surprises should he repeat.
Infrastructure paragraph will not end before a comprehensive update on the Standard Gauge railway progress. At 80 per cent completion in civil works, the government is more than excited to launch the project a year from now.
No doubt the biggest infrastructure project since independence, the SGR is expected to make transport affordable and faster for economic efficiency. Plans to open up new strategic railway lines to decongest urban traffic and ease urban public transport will also be outlined.
Last year, the CS promised that in order to ensure that the local economy benefits from the railway, the government would put in place measures to entrench at least 40 per cent local content in the construction and other auxiliary services.
Well, that has failed with local suppliers having earned only 28 per cent of the total money used in the purchase of materials while foreigners have earned a cool Sh167 billion from the project so far.
It is hard to predict whether the CS will duel on this aspect but another promise will mostly like cover the wound.
Expect many more about roads concluded by the investment in energy (the 5000 MW generation and the connection of 70 per cent households by next year).
The Cash transfer programmes with other support to social sectors (Social Protection, Health and Education will most likely be highlighted in the list of achievements.
The Judiciary will be among the sub sectors to take cuts with allocations having dropped from Sh19 billion to Sh17.8 billion in today’s budget.
Others who have taken painful cuts include Tourism whose earnings went down to Sh 84.6 billion in 2015 compared to Sh 87.1 billion in 2014. The sector first got a warning shot in April after its promotion budget was slashed by Sh3.4 billion in the supplementary budget.
Today, Mr Rotich will cut its allocations from Sh8.1 billion to Sh4.5 billion.