From Big Four to Beta: Ruto's economic recovery plan for Kenya

President William Ruto during the International Labour Organization, World of Work Summit, in Geneva, Switzerland. [PCS]

The 2023/2024 Budget has presented to Kenyans a five-point Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda (Beta) plan that President William Ruto seeks to utilise to turn around the country's fortune and deliver inclusive growth.

Beta is the slogan that informed the President's campaign that rallied behind the hustlers. The agenda, however, is not too far from the Big Four Agenda that his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta had.

The Big Four Agenda comprised affordable housing, food security, affordable healthcare and manufacturing.

Beta lists agricultural transformation and inclusive growth; micro, small and medium enterprise; housing and settlement; healthcare; and digital superhighway and creative industry.

The agenda has been linked to Kenya's Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the Budget Statement read by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u in the National Assembly Thursday, June 15, 2023.

The budget for the new fiscal year has allocated Sh278.7 billion for programmes under Beta. This money will be split into five clusters. Infrastructure and social sectors have the biggest allocation, among the five clusters, with budgets of Sh122.1 billion and Sh95.5 billion respectively.

Environment and natural resources have been allocated Sh15.3 billion, finance and production economy has an allocation of Sh35.2 billion, while governance and public administration has the least with Sh10.6 billion, possibly a sign that the President is keen to ensure more money goes to the designated projects and not spent on salaries.

The Beta plan informed the 2023/24 budget theme: 'Bottom Up Economic Transformation and Climate Change Mitigation/Adaptation for Improved Livelihood of Kenyans.'

In the statement, Prof Ndung'u said the government will scale up the implementation of policy priorities and structural reforms under the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda as detailed in the 2023 Budget Policy Statement and the Fourth Medium Term Plan currently under development.

CS Ndung'u said these five areas under Beta are expected to yield the most for the economy.

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"The strategy will involve increasing investments in five strategic sectors that have the largest impact and linkages to the economy as well as on household welfare as the starting point," said Ndung'u.

He said these strategies are expected to reduce the cost of living, create jobs, achieve a more equitable distribution of income, enhance social security, expand the tax base for more revenues to finance development and increase foreign exchange.

According to The Mwananchi Guide Financial Year 2023/24 Budget, there are nine key value chains the government has identified for growth under Beta.

These are leather, cotton, dairy, edible oils, tea, rice, blue economy, natural resources including minerals, and forestry and building materials.

The government seeks to spend Sh49.9 billion under the Agricultural Transformation and Inclusive Growth where the largest portion, Sh8.6 billion, has been allocated to the National Agricultural Value Chain Development Project.

The government is also banking on Sh175 million Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Sh182.8 million Women Enterprise Fund, and Sh300 million funding to SMEs in the manufacturing sector to make finance available to small businesses.

The Mwananchi Guide to the Budget published by Treasury notes that these efforts are out to correct market and institution failure problems through schemes that will ensure that benefits of growth are fairly distributed.

On housing and settlement, the government seeks to put up affordable houses which will in turn provide jobs to over 100,000 youths.

A total of Sh35.3 billion has been allocated for the housing programme in the 2023-24 budget, where Sh3.3 billion will go towards the construction of social housing units.

The government has allocated Sh141.2 billion to health, with the Universal Health Coverage programme receiving Sh18.4 billion.

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