Kenya’s defence budget has crossed the $1 billion (Sh100 billion) mark as the country ramps up spending on military and intelligence resources.
National budget data shows expenditure has gone up by 10 per cent from Sh97 billion in 2016 to Sh107 billion this financial year.
Parliament last week approved an additional Sh4 billion in budgetary allocations, pushing the total defence cake for the next financial year to Sh111 billion.
The allocations place Kenya fifth in Sub-Saharan Africa behind Sudan on $4.3 billion (Sh430 billion), South Africa $3.6 billion (Sh360 billion), Angola $3 billion (Sh300 billion) and Nigeria at $1.6 billion (Sh160 billion).
According to data from military policy think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Kenya’s defence budget is equal to expenditure by neighbours Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda combined.
Treasury has justified the increased spending, insisting that the Government needs to facilitate modernisation of the country’s military as well as account for active deployments of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in regional conflicts and domestic disaster relief efforts.
“The Kenya Defence Forces promoted regional and international peace through participation in peace missions in Amisom and South Sudan,” said Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich.
“In addition, KDF provided humanitarian assistance in various parts of the country, key among them being delivery of relief supplies and offering transport to civil institutions such as the Kenya National Examination Council during floods.”
Part of the additional funds re-allocated by the Budget and Appropriations Committee included Sh2 billion meant for acquiring land for the proposed Naivasha Industrial Park.
While this is in keeping with the Government’s move to scale down allocations to mega-infrastructure projects in favour of debt servicing and priority allocations for the Big Four, experts have warned that increased military spending could limit economic growth in the long run.
According to a joint study by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, titled Military Spending Cuts and Economic Growth, an increase in military expenditure could dampen the country’s growth.
“Military units in many developing countries often operate almost in autonomy to the rest of the economy, with specialised procurement and tendering channels,” said the report.
This means that economic trade-offs from the acquisition of military resources benefit only a handful of weapon manufacturers, and government and military officials, creating a military industrial complex.
Researchers further argue that a rise in military spending exerts a negative impact on the rate of investment in public and private productive fixed capital.
“This occurs because of well-known crowding-out effects: an increase in military spending must be financed either by raising current taxes or by borrowing (future taxes),” reads the study in part.
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