MPs have taken away Sh8 billion from scandal-ridden National Youth Service in budgetary changes that also pump substantial cash to mitigate floods, connect more households to electricity and for the military.
The National Assembly Budget Committee, which has a major say on Government spending, recommended the NYS budget be slashed by Sh8.3 billion in the next financial year, punitive action to discourage theft.
Treasury had earlier allocated Sh25.8 billion to the programme, but it has been slashed by a third – the biggest adjustment in the entire spending plan.
Treasury’s pensions department has lost Sh5 billion, as an earlier proposal to set up a public servants pension scheme has been withdrawn for the umpteenth time considering the allocation was meant to be seed capital.
Government workers were to start contributing towards their retirement savings, but they seem to have successfully resisted the move yet again. Many perceive it as a pay cut.
Consequently, social welfare of retiring public workers remains a burden for the taxpayer.
Big winners in the proposals include the Ministry of Infrastructure which has been granted Sh8.7 billion to rehabilitate roads damaged by floods.
MPs also want Sh700 million allocated to Makueni, Kajiado, Bungoma, Nyamira, Marsabit, Nairobi, West Pokot, Nakuru and Tharaka Nithi counties to repair damaged bridges, roads and reconstruction of Solai school among others.
An additional Sh1.5 billion is recommended for the LPG cylinder project intended to help low income households. The Last Mile Project meant to connect households to the national electricity grid is to get an extra Sh1 billion while the Kenya Defence Forces is to receive an extra Sh4 billion.
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The Kenya Transmission Company, which is mandated to build high voltage electricity lines, has also been offered Sh4 billion for land compensation for way leaves.
MPs also awarded Sh3.8 billion to the National Government Constituency Development Fund (CDF) where they are patrons.
An additional Sh1.8 billion has been proposed to fund the national census that is scheduled to take place next year.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich will read the budget estimates in Parliament on June 14 in which he will spell out taxation measures - to raise Government revenue.
Losers include Judiciary and the Parliamentary Service Commission – the MPs’ employer - that had their collective budget nipped by Sh6 billion.
The slashed allocations are from their respective development budgets suggesting that the some of their planned projects have been put on ice, at least for the financial year ending June 2019.
The committee has also proposed to remove Sh2 billion meant for the implementation of the Naivasha Industrial Park, a major cog in the development of the second phase of the standard gauge railway (SGR) line.
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Already, construction of the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR section is at advanced stages and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.
Withdrawal of the funds in the national budget follow an earlier reallocation in the mini-budget presented two months ago which gave the park Sh3.4 billion.
The mini-budget consists of re-allocations within a financial year where funds that are unlikely to be absorbed are transferred to more pressing needs, such as the case of the industrial park.
Kenya Revenue Authority’s budget could also be chopped by Sh800 million, even though no reasons were given for the proposal.
The huge budget cuts for NYS, the committee warned, would serve as an example to other Government departments and agencies whose budgets will be tied to fidelity.
“In this regard, the committee has started using past fiscal prudency to review expenditure allocations to various agencies,” committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wah reported to the National Assembly.
The committee report must be approved by the House. Previously, it has been passed without major alterations. Should the House endorse the drastic proposal, enrollment into the paramilitary training and subsequent college placements would be hit hard
Already, the current recruits are taking the heat over suspensions in procurement following the discovery of massive theft by suspects who are facing various charges in court.
Mr Ichung’wah added that his committee had endeavoured to reduce in a targeted way allocations of agencies, specifically the NYS, with numerous audit queries relating to misuse of public money.
“To strengthen fiscal consolidation adopted by the Government, the committee is considering deeper scrutiny of all public finances held by various parastatals,” he added.
NYS has been at the heart of President Kenyatta’s youth empowerment plan since his first election in 2013. Budgets have grown more than ten-fold since to highlight how critical a role the agency was intended to be in productively engaging the youth.