Mary Wachira cradle her baby at Afraha Nursing Home and Maternity. (Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard)
Members of Parliament and teachers are the big winners in the next national budget.
MPs pushed past various objections to increase their budget which could be directed to a bigger severance allowance as the present House would be dissolved prematurely to pave way for elections in August.
An estimated 200,000 primary school teachers have been granted a total of Sh144.7 billion that will go to improved salaries.
In the current financial year, the teachers’ employer expects to spend Sh121 billion in salaries for the primary school teachers.
Expectant mothers must, beginning July 1, join the National Hospital Insurance Fund to benefit from the free maternity kitty, making them among the biggest losers in the next budget.
Managing the free maternity kitty worth Sh4.3 billion under the NHIF is expected to eliminate fraud and multiple claims.
But the new system would inadvertently lock out expectant mothers who fail to consistently pay up their monthly healthcare premiums from accessing free maternity care.
It is not certain yet how much the mothers will pay as monthly contributions to enable them become members of the public medical insurer, which has in the recent months said it was targeting to enlist 12 million new members.
Enactment of the directive could provide a huge recruitment pool, of predominantly poor households for NHIF.
Governors will until the end of June manage the free maternity kitty through their respective counties, an arrangement which had exposed the fund to wastage and diversion to less critical functions.
There is also no mention of increased salaries for doctors in the budgets of the Ministry of Health even as a strike staged by medical practitioners including doctors and dentists demanding better pay enters the third month.
It is, however, likely that at least part of their demands would be met, possibly through the introduction of a supplementary budget to fund the anticipated higher pay.
MPs squeezed an additional Sh5 billion allocation in the budget, in the steepest increase, expected to cater for their compensation for the eight months following the dissolution of Parliament.
Political tribe always laughs last
A prior budgetary paper prepared by the National Treasury did not contain the extra allocation for the MPs, indicating that the amendments were introduced by the Budget Committee of the House.It was rightly feared that the legislators would arm-twist Treasury and Cabinet into approving a bigger budget for their salaries that has now been increased to a record Sh36 billion.
Opponents of the legislators’ push to be paid for the eight months between August and April next year, say once granted, lawmakers who will be re-elected will be drawing a double salary.
Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), the independent body that recommends remuneration for public and State officers, has objected to the legislators’ demands.
But in justifying the demands, the MPs defended their claim on the premise that they were elected for a five-year term starting April 2013.
Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi trashed objections to the MPs demands arguing that the legislators, like any other workers, had the right to demand for better terms of employment.
MPs were also able to get additional funding for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), now called National Government Constituency Fund. It had been slashed from Sh34 billion to Sh25 billion, but has in the latest budgetary paper, been raised to Sh31 billion.
Majority leader Aden Duale tabled the new estimates which also capped the judiciary’s budget at Sh18 billion, the same amount allocated in the current financial year.
The executive arm of government saw its proposed budget of Sh1.55 trillion slashed by the Budget Committee by over Sh82 billion.In effect, it is only the legislature that saw its budget increased while that of the Judiciary was retained.
The Presidency’s budget was increased by Sh800 million, which is a significant increase considering that it is among the smaller items.
Sh8.7 billion has been allocated for the Presidency which includes the State House, the office of the Deputy President and the Cabinet Office.
Nearly Sh1.6 billion will be spent in the next financial year by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for State protocol. No funds were allocated for the protocol purposes in the current and previous budgets.
Sh21.4 billion has been allocated to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to fund the actual electioneering process.Most of the equipment and material that would be used in the August 8 polls will be acquired in the current financial year, before June 30.
Transport and infrastructure department will collectively receive Sh291 billion, taking the single largest chunk of the Sh2.6 trillion national budget.
About Sh60 billion from the infrastructure-related development budget will be directed to fund the Phase II of the Standard Gauge Railway line which links Nairobi to Naivasha whose total budget is estimated at Sh155 billion ($1.5 billion).
Additional funds were also allocated to fund several programmes in the agricultural sector, including Sh5 billion for the fertilizer subsidy program, another Sh1 billion for miraa farmers and Sh2.1 billion for Mwea Irrigation Scheme.
Some Sh450 million has been allocated for the revival of Rivatex, the Eldoret-based textile manufacturing firm that was acquired by Moi University.
In the energy sector, Sh16.4 billion will be spent on the development of geothermal wells while the Mombasa Port Development Project has been allocated Sh3.6 billion in donor funds.