The reality of our economic situation hit the Kenya Kwanza government days after taking power.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua publicly said they had inherited a dilapidated economy and their hands were tied.
To drive the point home, President William Ruto directed the National Treasury to cut back government spending by Sh300 billion in the 2022/2023 fiscal year.
Further, the government withdrew fuel and maize subsidies that the Jubilee government had rolled out to cushion citizens, ostensibly because they were unsustainable. Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u later issued government ministries with a circular stating that the government will initiate austerity measures on provisions for operations and maintenance
As a consequence of these measures, the cost of living shot up exponentially. In these circumstances, ordinary citizens had to, even grudgingly, admit that the economy is in bad shape.
Yet despite the presidential directive and Treasury CS’s memorandum, there is no evidence that the government is serious about cutting unnecessary expenditures to help revive our flagging economy.
A recent spot check by The Standard revealed that government agencies with multi-billion shilling budgets, including State House, continue to engage in non-essential spending.
Some departments have put out bids for the provision of flowers and hospitality services. At the just-concluded COP27 conference in Egypt, Kenya sent 386 delegates, out of which 293 were government representatives. Granted, we are hard hit by the ravages of climate change as drought threatens both animals and people in arid and semi-arid areas.
Sending such a large delegation flew in the face of any claim to observing austerity measures. Such delegations gobble up a lot of funds through payment of allowances, money that could have bought relief food for drought victims. The government should put action where its words are and do what it preaches.