SECTIONS

MPs to debate supplementary budget in two weeks

NAIROBI, Monday

The Finance Ministry will seek parliamentary approval in two weeks for extra spending on the implementation of a new Constitution, border security and drought mitigation, a senior official has said.

Joseph Kinyua, Permanent Secretary at the Finance Ministry, said the supplementary budget would include Sh3.4 billion ($41.3 million) for the constitution, Sh8 billion for drought and an unspecified amount for border security.

Cabinet agreed the spending on the Constitution at the end of October and Kinyua said in December that Kenya was increasing its domestic borrowing target by 14 per cent. He said this was largely down to the costs of the new charter.

"The amount we are seeking will help finance the initial phase of the implementing the new Constitution. Funding for the more comprehensive phases such as the establishment of regional assemblies will, however, be factored under the next full budget," Kinyua told reporters.

The current financial year runs until the end of June.

Kenyans endorsed the new Constitution in a peaceful referendum in August, one of the reforms agreed upon to end the months of deadly violence that erupted following a disputed presidential election at the end of 2007.

Agriculture hit

"We shall also seek approval to spend about Sh8 billion to help in the mitigation of drought-related effects that are currently being witnessed in parts of the country," Kinyua said.

The country is experiencing unusually dry weather and meteorologists are forecasting low rain for the first half of this year.

Drought is bad news for agricultural production, which accounts for about a quarter of gross domestic product, and can hurt hydro power production, forcing energy producers to turn to more expensive thermal generation.

Kinyua also said the supplementary budget would include an unspecified amount to support border security along Kenya’s frontier with Somalia-- – following fighting last week and threats by al Qaeda-linked rebels.

"A security problem has come up along the common border and we require more funds for the security agencies to take intervention measures before things get out of hand," he said.

Somalia’s hardline rebel group al Shabaab threatened on Sunday to attack Kenya for training Somali government forces and allowing Ethiopian troops to operate from its towns.

—Reuters