More infrastructural projects are on the way after the Department of Infrastructure received Sh189.5 billion, one of the largest allocations.
While many government agencies have seen their allocations reduced, as the National Treasury reallocates resources to fight the coronavirus, the Infrastructure Department has been pampered with a three per cent increase in allocation compared to the Sh186.4 billion it received in the current financial year.
Among the major roads the government is planning to start building over the 2020-21 financial year include the Sh400 billion controversial Mombasa-Nairobi expressway, Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Road and dualling of the Kenol (near Thika) – Marua (in Nyeri) road.
The Ministry will also upgrade the old metre gauge railway between Naivasha and Malaba as well as build a connecting line between Naivasha and Mai Mahiu, where the Standard Gauge Railway currently terminates.
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The Department’s development budget is Sh121 billion, which is about 20 per cent of the entire government’s development budget of Sh584.3 billion.
The Parliamentary Budget Office noted that Infrastructure, together State Departments of Water and Sanitation and Energy accounted for more than half of the government's development spending.
“In the development budget, major expenditures are as follows; the state department for Infrastructure Sh121.6 billion, the State Department for Water and Sanitation Sh69.7 billion, Ministry of Energy Sh67 billion and the ministry of Health Sh49 billion. The expenditures represent 52 per cent of the total development budget,” noted the PBO when it analysed the proposals by Treasury.
In a recent interview with The Standard, Dr Samuel Nyandemo, an economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi, noted that the country should have starved sectors such as roads and other infrastructure projects in resource allocation.
Instead, critical areas such as health and agriculture should have been key. Such a move, he noted, would enable the country manage Covid-19 as well as hold the economy from collapse.
“If we can stay away from spending on infrastructure for instance roads, we will have a breathing space. This money can be directed to other sectors that can cushion the economy and help in the recovery journey,” said Dr Nyandemo.
He continued: “Focus should instead be put on priority projects that can have some kind of spill over that can cushion us in the aftermath of the pandemic. This means focus should be on sectors like agriculture… it should be key. If we can enhance food security, we can cushion ourselves from hunger and live another day to generate revenue. The danger will come when we do not target agriculture.”
In its report tabled in Parliament last week, the Budget and Appropriations committee noted concerns on Sh8 billion that had been allocated to 64 projects that have already been completed.
“Analysis of the list of projects reveals that some projects have been allocated resources despite having been finalised. The committee was informed that this was on account of pending financial obligations after the projects have been physically completed,” the committee said.
“In project management, 100 per cent completion means both financial and physical completion. As such, the information system by the Project Information Management System of the National Treasury is potentially misleading.”
The Ministry of Transport has however clarified that the 64 projects had been allocated Sh7.1 billion, which was meant to offset financial obligations to contractors who had worked on them. The Ministry said owing to financial constraints, payment to contractors might not always keep up with construction works.