Coming at a critical moment when the country is gearing for a transitional General Election after which the governance structures will assume an all-new setup, Githae did his best not to rock the boat.
But going by past experiences, finance ministers have in recent years become notorious in unveiling budget statements with lots of promises, but which are rarely implemented to the letter.
When Githae’s predecessor, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, unveiled the 2011/2012 Budget last year anchored on the theme of building resilience and sustaining inclusive growth for a prosperous Kenya, the popular consensus revolved around the fact that the Budget would solve immediate challenges whilst ensuring sustained economic growth.
But a year down the line, most of Uhuru’s promises have either fallen flat, have not been implemented or have ultimately been ignored as succession politics took centre-stage and the International Criminal Court (ICC) became a distraction.
In his budget, Uhuru projected the economy would continue on a positive growth trajectory building on the recovery path it had assumed following the 2007/2008 post-election violence. In 2010, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth stood at an impressive 5.6 per cent, up from 2.6 per cent in 2009 and 1.5 per cent in 2008.
According to Uhuru’s projections, in 2011, GDP growth was expected to register a marginal slowdown due to numerous shocks to 5.3 per cent. This projection, however, crash-landed as economic growth recorded a significant decline to 4.4 per cent according to the 2012 Economic Survey.
Though the Government is wont to claim the substantial drop in growth was largely due to factors beyond its influence, yet again various projects outlined in the 2011/2012 Gudget where not implemented forcing several ministries to return unspent billions of shillings to the Treasury.
According to the 2012 budget policy statement, a staggering Sh102 billion allocated for various projects was not spent ostensibly because of lengthy procurement processes.
For instance, Uhuru allocated billions of shillings for various infrastructure projects but little has been achieved as far as implementation is concerned.
A case in point is the construction of the standard gauge railway line from Mombasa to Malaba with a branch to Kisumu.
While Uhuru allocated Sh3.3 billion as mobilisation fund to initiate the project’s implementation, controversies over the procurement of a contract to undertake a feasibility study have grounded the project.