Concern over falling revenue and high debt

Controller of Budget Director Research and Planning Joshua Musyimi leaves Senate Finance Committee after the committee meeting on budget at County Hall, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]
Kenya’s debt repayment of Sh1.1 trillion annually is wiping out a huge chunk of revenue collected, leaving little for other budgetary allocations, experts have said.

The amount allocated to service debt annually is 68 per cent of the revenue raised, a figure that is too high to be sustainable.

Experts from Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), Controller of Budget (CoB) and the Institute of Certified Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), yesterday told Senate Kenya’s revenue projections were too ambitious, considering the debt burden being shouldered.

Unrealistic figures

They were addressing a Senate committee session on the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) 2019 on public debt management.

They argued that the figures displayed by the Government were a complete departure from reality, giving National Treasury a leeway to borrow and slash already budgeted funds for development to bridge deficits.

“We are in the red. Our quantum payment of debt has crossed over the Sh1 trillion mark. The debt is rising yearly. Revenue projection has been raised from Sh1.4 trillion to the current Sh1.6 trillion. It is expected to be raised to Sh1.8 trillion. The Sh600 billion balance remaining from revenue after debt repayment is not enough,” said Joshua Musimi, CoB Director for Research and Planning.

ICPAK representatives Fredrick Riaga the Chief Manager, Public Policy and Research Hillary Onami and Elias Wakhisi; and CRA chair Jane Kiringai also waded in the matter and faulted Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for failing to meet the targets over the years.

They questioned how KRA planned to increase revenue by Sh200 billion when in the current budget it faced a deficit of Sh172 billion.

Senators Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Ali Abdullahi (Wajir), said they were puzzled with the projected figures yet the revenue growth was not in tandem with development.

Crumbling economy

Senator Ali Farhiya (nominated) cautioned that the matter should be addressed at this point or the economy would crumble.

“It is clear there is no money for development. The figures are too high and in reality we have no money,” said Farhiya.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula noted that a red flag had been raised over Kenya’s unsustainable debt and wondered why the ministry continued to mislead the public.

Kenya’s debtrevenueCommission on Revenue AllocationCRAICPAK