The history of Kenya's iconic budget briefcase
SEE ALSO :Ailing State firms gobble up Sh14bSo this takes away the significance of Budget Day reading because what Kenyans wait to hear is just the tax measures. Never the less, the tradition lives on. Though it is now more ceremonial than what it was previously, the Briefcase still remains a key accessory to the Treasury chief when he walked into parliament buildings. Days before a budget is read, an employee of the national Treasury walks into the cabinet secretaries office to pick the briefcase from where it is kept. His job is to service it and make it ready for the big day. The employee makes sure the locks are working properly, then he makes it ready for the budget statement. It carries nothing else but the budget statement.
SEE ALSO :Debt still sustainable, says RotichThe briefcase was first waved to Kenyans at the then new parliament that is now occupied by the Bank of India on Nairobi's Kenyatta Avenue. At the time this road was known as the Delamere Avenue. The history of the briefcase stretches back to 1860, when then Britain's budget chief, William E. Gladstone, needed something to carry the massive load of documents he had to walk down to the House of Commons. It was a lot of paper, as such speeches had been known to last hours. The original budget box was made: 14½ by 10 inches, wooden, lined in black satin and covered with red leather, brass hinges. But this is a little too big today because the budget speech now has less pages that would perfectly fit in an A4 envelope. But as tradition would have it, these too must be carried in the famous briefcase. When Amos Kimunya was in office, the briefcase became a little too old and had to be replaced.
SEE ALSO :State taken to task on public debt"I am not sure how much it costed. It has been replaced either once or twice. Most people with the institutional memory on the briefcase have left," a source at the National Treasury said.