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Does Kenya’s Budget Review and Outlook Paper Predict A Debt Ratio of 63% by 2019?

While fact-checking a claim made by Mr. Musalia Mudavadi during a rally in Kilifi on June 8, 2017 on the level of public debt, the Daily Nationcited the Budget Review Outlook Paper of 2015 while concluding that Kenya’s debt-to-GDP ratio was projected to reach 63 per cent in the fiscal year 2018/2019.

However, PesaCheck has done a fact check on the claim and finds it to be false.

The World Bank, in its economic update titledBeyond Resilience: Increasing Productivity of Public Investments released in October 2016, says that debt levels increased from 42.1% of GDP in 2012/13 to 55.1% of GDP in 2015/16, due to the increase in development spending.

According to the report, Kenya has seen a 13 percentage point increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio within a three-year period (2013–2016). The debt levels are currently over 50 per cent of GDP, and fiscal deficits remain above the medium term target of 4.5 per cent. The report says further that although public debt remains sustainable, the margins for maneuver are rapidly narrowing.

According to data from the Central Bank, Kenya’s public debt stands at KSh4.104 trillion as of March 2017. This is more than twice the total public debt in March 2013 when the total debt stood at KSh1.770 trillion.

TheBudget Review and Outlook Paper (BROP) for 2015 that was used by the Nation projected the debt to GDP ratio to reach 46.7% by the financial year 2018/19. This therefore shows that the claim by the Nation that Kenya’s Debt to GDP ratio is projected to reach 63% by the financial year 2018/19 is FALSE.

Furthermore, the2016 Budget Review and Outlook Paper projects the debt to GDP ratio to reach 49.3% by the financial year 2018/2019, which is revised from 45.6% that appears in the 2016 Budget Policy Statement.

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This report was written and fact-checked by PesaCheck Fellow George Githinji, a researcher and writer with interest in devolution and public finance.The infographics are by PesaCheck Fellow Brian Wachanga, who is a Kenyan civic technologist interested in data visualisation. The report was edited by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi and veteran investigative editor and PesaCheck co-founder Catherine Gicheru, with support fromIBP-Kenya.

PesaCheck is East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of so-called ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visitpesacheck.org

PesaCheck is a joint initiative ofCode for Africa, through its localCode for Kenya chapter, and theInternational Budget Partnership (Kenya), in partnership with a coalition of local media organisations, with additional support from theInternational Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

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