Kenyans want Finance Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich’s 2017/18 Budget to fund the simple things that can make a difference in their daily lives.
The budget committee had solicited views from the public. The residents pointed out that the government should look into the recapitalization of industries and investments that empower the vulnerable groups.
Residents of Rongai who are forced to wake up in the wee hours of the morning only to be stuck in traffic jams for hours on end simply want the Bomas-Ongata-Rongai-Kiserian road to be dual carriage to ease flow of vehicles.
A report on public hearings by the budget committee says that motorists also want Nakuru-Naivasha and Ndumberi-Muthaiga roads expanded.
Kenyans staring at the effects of drought and having to dig deeper into their empty pockets to buy food want more money to go into funding irrigation. For the coffee farmer, they want recommendations by the taskforce on the sector implemented.
“The public proposed that funds should be set aside to cater for reviving the coffee industry including the implementation of the presidential taskforce on the revival of the coffee sub-sector. Further investment is also proposed for the establishment of irrigation projects in arid and semi-arid areas,” the report by the budget and appropriation committee read in part.
In horticulture sector the stakeholders want the Government to put in place labour policies that will protect the workers from exploitation. Dairy farmers want the Government to give them subsidies and incentives and help them address the issue of accumulated debts owed to banks.
In Kenya, it not uncommon to get police quarters in dilapidated colonial houses amidst towering glass and steel skyscrapers.
Kenyans want CS Rotich to address this by increasing constructing of new police stations and making adequate provisions for housing, patrol and mobility to urgently respond to victims of crime which people feel is on the rise.
MPs also found out that Kenyans are unhappy with the sole electricity distributor Kenya Power for frequently plunging them into the dark or interrupting their businesses.
“There were concerns over frequent power outages that needed to be addressed. In addition, the public requested for initiation of a policy measure to moderate monopoly enjoyed by the power utility company in the distribution and power supply sector,” the Mutava Musyimi led committee noted.
Annual Budget of a government – a public proclamation by the State of its projected and actual expenditures – provides vital evidence of where a State sets its priorities – whether on the poor and marginalised people or not.
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Kenyans want allocation to bursary funds scaled up to stop the high rate of school drop outs with a special kitty for the disabled. They also want the newly built primary and secondary schools to be well equipped and the scaling up of school feeding programme.
In the case of people living with disability, they want the Government to remove taxes on wheel chair, walking canes and offer them incentives to encourage them enroll in technical institutions. However, with debt repayments salaries and pension eating up almost half of what the Kenya Revenue Authority hopes to collect, some of these requests are likely to go unanswered.
Non-discretionary spending which is also known as consolidated funds services, meaning what is deducted from the Government’s revenues will hit Sh699 billion against expected collection of Sh1.7 trillion.
Rotich’s Sh2.63 trillion budget will have to be funded by more debts with proposals by Treasury to borrow Sh340 billion in the domestic market and Sh205 billion internationally.
“The deficit is large … so we need to watch out for that. We may even have a challenge meeting revenue taxes being an election year,” the Institute of Economic Affairs boss Kwame Owino said.
MPs also cast doubt on CS Rotich’s assumption that GDP will grow at six per cent given that investor confidence wanes as we approach elections and the damaging effect of drought remains real and will likely hamper agriculture sector growth.
“If the macro framework forms the basis of the budget is unrealistic, due to the highlighted risks, the entire budget becomes vulnerable to these risks. It is partly for this reason that we keep having in year revisions for the approved budget in the form of supplementary budgets,” the committee reckoned.