By ALEX NDEGWA
Cabinet ministers praised the last budget of the Grand Coalition Government, saying allocations to social welfare programmes and infrastructure development laid the bridge to economic prosperity as the country moves to devolved government.
Ministers Chris Obure (Public Works), Mutula Kilonzo (Education), Fred Gumo (Local Government), Samuel Poghisio (Information), Esther Murugi (Special Programmes), Charity Ngilu (Water) and Kiraitu Murungi (Energy) said the budget had allocations to cushion consumers and also spur growth.
They said the Treasury’s reluctance to raise Value Added Tax on basic commodities was meant to shield Kenyans from the high cost of living. Businessmen would therefore have no excuse to increase the cost of essential commodities, they added.
Eldoret North MP William Ruto praised the Sh268 billion for the construction of roads, railway and ports but cautioned the Government should ensure equity in distribution of projects.
“A country’s growth is helped by spending in development projects. But we must ensure equity. You should not spend more funds on quality roads in certain regions while spending less in other areas,” said Ruto.
Mutula said the massive spending on the education sector would help the country generate a skilful and productive human resource workforce.
“This has been the corner stone of rapid growth in developed nations,” he said.
Mutula said provision of funds to employ 10,000 teachers would help ease the shortage. “We require 80,000 more teachers to plug the gap,” he said.
But the minister explained he did not favour calls to engage in massive recruitment of up to 40,000 teachers at once as it would “over heat the system.”
Kiraitu said the Finance minister had addressed all the crucial sectors of the economy, including the security organs especially as the country prepares for elections while facing terror threats.
The minister recalled the budget came in the backdrop of recent discovery of oil. The ministry was rolling out electricity connectivity, saying so far 20 per cent of the country had been lit up.