Yatani attempts stiff budget cuts where his predecessors have failed

Rent and furniture costs are among the items the Government intends to chop in new austerity measures that also target critical supplies, specifically newspapers.

A new circular on Government spending published yesterday directed all public agencies to slash budgets for furniture by 75 per cent until 2022, in the single biggest cut.

The austerity measures, meant to take immediate effect, include a ban on the use of Government vehicles outside working hours.

Benchmarking tours which are popular with the political class but with unquantifiable benefits to their electorate have been suspended indefinitely.

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Also affected is travel by senior Government officials whose delegations have been limited to four for cabinet secretaries and three for principal secretaries or chief executives.

Ukur Yatani, the Acting CS of the National Treasury, announced the far-reaching budget cuts whose expected savings are to be directed to the President’s Big 4 Agenda.

He, however, did not indicate how much he expects to collect in the savings, but the amount could be significant considering Yatani’s proposal are the most significant in recent times.

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Control measures

“The expenditure control measures outlined in this circular are aimed at enhancing prudent financial management by ensuring that we live within our means, create savings for the much-needed service delivery and foster financial responsibility,” Yatani said in the circular.

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Yatani addressed the memo to CSs and oddly accountants in the various ministries and departments.

Typically, such circulars are addressed to the CS and PS before the directive on rationalisation of budgets are handed down to their juniors – including the respective Heads of Department.

Philip Muema, the managing partner at Andersen Tax which offers business advisory, projects that the savings from Yatani’s austerity measures would be huge, “obviously in the tens of billions”.

He said should the CS’ directives be followed through to the letter, there would be limited pressure on the State to borrow.

He, however, disagrees that cutting back on Government’s subscription of newspapers which retail at Sh60 or less would yield significant savings considering that most advertising by ministries and other agencies is already carried in the government’s own publications.

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Still on communication, Yatani wants airtime supplied to Government workers to be slashed by 30 per cent while the staff have been encouraged to embrace the internet as a cheaper means to pass information.

Judiciary and Parliament are also required to rationalise their spending, just like in the various ministries.

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Rentfurniture costsCS Ukur Yattani