Judges and Ruto's office big winners in reviewed budget
Judges have emerged as big winners in the revised national budget, besides the office of Deputy President William Ruto.
MPs have given judges an additional Sh400 million for car allowances while Ruto's office has been granted Sh50 million to add to its foreign travel budget.
It is unclear why the legislators granted the hefty perks for the judges considering that the original budget drafted by the Treasury would typically contain such “obvious” expenses – unless they are new.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary will on Thursday unveil the spending plans for the financial year that begins on July 1.
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He will also indicate how his ministry plans to fund the Sh3.02 trillion budget, likely through a raft of new taxes and new loans estimated at Sh608 billion.
National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee passed the resolution in its last input which expanded from Rotich’s initial plan by Sh25 billion.
Even though the additional spending introduced by the committee led by Kimani Ichung’wah was included, the MPs had raised concerns that Rotich had thrown the need for austerity to the wind.
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Further, the revenue collections were exaggerated by Sh35 billion in a deliberate effort to understate the amount of cash the National Treasury will actually borrow.
Specifically, the fears lie in the ability of Kenya Revenue Authority’s new boss James Githii Mburu to collect nearly Sh2.2 trillion – more than double the amount collected between July 1 2018 and March 31, 2019.
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KRA has not nearly met its ever-ambitious revenue targets under the Jubilee administration despite the introduction of several new taxes with each passing year.
“This means that should the country miss the revenue target, there will be need to adjust the expenditures downwards,” the committee wrote in its reservations.
Such spending adjustments are effected through supplementary budgets which often translate to shelving of development projects or procrastinating on paying suppliers.
Retired presidents have also been offered Sh50m to be spent on acquiring new vehicles.
Parliament also reallocated some of the Sh3.1 billion intended to purchase vehicles and Sh1 billion for foreign travel, to padding the budgets for individual members’ constituency and county offices.
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Collectively, Sh730m has been reallocated to pay salaries and other expenses for the legislators’ offices, both in Nairobi and the respective constituencies.
The increase was besides the Sh3b granted for the controversial National Government Constituency Development Fund where the MPs in the National Assembly, including woman representatives, are patrons.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s digital literacy programme, which has undergone huge mutations beginning with laptops for Class One learners, lost Sh1.5b allocation, confirming it as a mirage project.
Reasoning that informed the budget cuts include that there is low electricity connectivity across the country to power the gadgets and the inadequate human capacity through lack of training for tutors.
Konza Technopolis, another elusive project that was launched under President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, has been granted an additional Sh5.4b, as the single biggest beneficiary.
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However, the MPs indicated that a huge chunk of the funding from Konza City is in loans, most having been signed from the Chinese Government and Huawei during Kenyatta’s last visit to China.
Only Sh80m of the project cost will be contributed by Kenya in stakeholder equity investment.
Controversial projects whose development has been delayed, some beyond a decade, were also awarded huge allocations – including the Badasa Dam in Marsabit which remains a ghost site.
Some Sh400m has been budgeted for the project whose initial completion date was 2011. Initial cost for Badassa Dam was only Sh1.7b before the cost rose to Sh3.8b while only minimal work including clearing of the site has so far been done.
MPs now say of the new allocation – Sh221m – would be spent to pay the consultants who would be contracted to review the design.
Midroc Water Drilling Company is the contractor for the Badassa Dam project. World Bank has raised concern over delays in its execution.
Another stalled project, Umaa Dam in Kitui County, has been granted Sh500m in the spending plans where Sh350m would be also spent on consultants to review the design.
Yet another water project, Sh20b worth Soin-Koru Dam in Kisumu, has been allocated Sh1b to kick start construction.
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