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Education, energy sectors win in Sh4tr Ruto budget

 Junior Secondary school teachers in Nakuru on a peaceful demonstration in Nakuru City on May 13, 2024, urging the government to employ them under permanent terms. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Parliament’s approval of a Sh4 trillion budget has exposed the areas President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration is prioritising.

In a session that ran into the night, the National Assembly on Thursday gave the nod to the 2024/2025 revenue budget estimates and laid the basis for the consideration of the Appropriations Bill next week.

Of the Sh4 trillion, the Executive got the lion’s share with a cumulative allocation of Sh2.39 trillion which was an increase from the Sh2.1 trillion in the 2023/2024 financial year. Parliament was allocated Sh44.6 billion while the Judiciary and Judicial Service Commission received Sh24.64 billion.

The budget, which goes down as the highest ever since Kenya’s independence, also includes Sh1.21 trillion in Consolidated Fund Services and a further Sh400 billion equitable share to be divided among the 47 counties.

Under the Executive, the Office of the President will receive Sh5.1 billion, a marked increase from Sh4.3 billion allocated in the last financial year, while the Deputy President’s office has been given Sh4.8 billion- which is also an increase from Sh3.73 billion.

State House was allocated Sh9.5 billion, and a further Sh275 million was approved for the Cabinet Affairs Office. The office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary will receive Sh1.1 billion, which is a decrease from the Sh1.2 billion it received in the last financial year.

“The budget is aimed at economic turnaround in view of prevailing macroeconomic challenges. Key interventions include lowering the cost of living, creating employment opportunities, enhancing food security, improving the fiscal space, increasing foreign exchange earnings and promoting inclusive growth,” reads the report on the budget estimates in part.

A sectoral approach revealed that a key priority area for President William Ruto’s administration line with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) manifesto - is the Education sector which will receive the largest share of the national government’s cake with an allocation of Sh654 billion. This comprises an allocation of Sh351 billion to the Teachers Service Commission for teacher resource management.

Other areas in the sector with major allocations include free-day secondary school at Sh63.8 billion; Junior Secondary School capitation at Sh30.6 billion; and scholarships as well as loans for university and TVET students at Sh55 billion.

The Energy, Infrastructure and ICT sectors were allocated Sh462.8 billion shillings which includes allocation for roads at Sh178 billion, transport Sh42 billion and energy and electrification at Sh64.2 billion.

Notably, under the energy sector, rural electrification, which includes the installation of new transformers and maximization of existing ones, has been allocated Sh18 billion, of which approximately Sh14.5 billion will be shared equally across all constituencies to enhance connectivity and access to power.

“On top of the usual budget, we have included the Sh14.5 billion to be divided equally among the 290 constituencies for electrification of our villages and estates in our republic,” stated the Budget and Appropriations Committee chair Ndindi Nyoro.

The health sector also emerged as an area of focus for President Ruto, as it received an allocation of Sh126.8 billion, of which 2.5 billion has been set aside for Community Health Promoters to support preventive healthcare and Sh3.7 billion for absorption of medical interns. After a false start to the year, medical interns have a reason to show their pearly whites after they were allocated billions by Parliament to facilitate their absorption into employment.

The funds were allocated to the interns after they, through the doctor’s union, signed a return-to-work- agreement with the government, following an 8-week strike that had paralyzed healthcare systems in the country. The interns had been protesting salary cuts from Sh200,000 to Sh70,000 and were agitating for better working conditions.

Other allocations under the health vote are Sh3.7 billion to the Linda Mama programme and equipping of various hospitals and Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC). This also includes an allocation to the recently established primary health care fund and emergency and critical illness fund.

The Agriculture and Rural Development sector will receive an allocation of Sh79.8 billion to support food security and lower the cost of living. This includes Sh10 billion for fertilizer programs and approximately Sh12 billion for various priority value chains, including cotton, leather, dairy, and edible oils, among other crops.

Parliamentary staff and employees hired by MPs also emerged as big winners after the Budget and Appropriations Committee recommended, and the House adopted, they get a salary increment of 10 percent.

Nyoro noted that the last time Parliamentary staff received a salary review was in 2016 and there was a need to conduct the same.

“Many people take Parliament to mean MPs, we confuse that the only people here are the elected people. There are also those employed here. We should note that the staff of Parliament have not had any salary increment since 2016, and the constituency office employees have also not had an increase in salaries. In this budget, we are proposing additional resources of 10 percent for both,” said Nyoro. 

The State Department of Parliamentary Affairs was also allocated a further Sh458.2 million.

MPs will also not be left out after the BAC recommended increased allocation to their constituency kitty through the National Government Constituency Development Funds (NG-CDF). The House consequently increased NG-CDF from a current Sh40 billion to Sh62.9 billion while the funding of the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) is increased by Sh500 million.

“We have added the monies to Sh62.9 billion in NG-CDF in the 2024/2025 financial year and therefore, the parents of Kenya are going to get much more in bursaries,” added Nyoro.

And to bolster the fight against graft, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has been allocated Sh4 billion down from an earlier requested amount of Sh6.3 billion. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has also been allocated Sh6.3 billion.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been allocated Sh3.7 billion of which it is expected to use Sh2.7 billion to clear pending bills on legal fees.

The National Treasury got an additional allocation of Sh2 billion on top of its current budget. Parliament is now expected to consider the Appropriations Bill next week, which will in turn give way for Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u to deliver the budget address on Thursday.

The Education sector emerged as a significant beneficiary of the budget, receiving a substantial allocation aimed at enhancing infrastructure, increasing teacher recruitment, and supporting the implementation of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

Specifically, primary education has been allocated Sh29.9 billion, while secondary education is set to receive Sh103.3 billion. The submitted budget estimates before amendments were Sh25.68 billion for primary education and Sh104.76 billion for Secondary education. In the 2024/25 estimates, the State Department for Technical, Vocational Education and has been allocated Sh30.69 billion, State Department for Higher Education and Research, Sh127.99 billion and  State Department for Basic Education, Sh142.26 billion, totaling to Sh300.94 billion, with the Teachers Service Commission set to receive an allocation of Sh358.23 billion for teacher resource management, planning and governance and standards.

“A sum not exceeding Sh127,986,194,444 be issued from the Consolidated Fund to complete the sum necessary to meet the expenditure (Recurrent and Development) during the year ending 30th June 2025,” the document reads.

This allocation marks a significant difference from previous years. For instance, in the 2023/2024 financial year, the education sector was allocated Sh497.7 billion overall, with Sh12.4 billion for primary and Sh92.2 billion for secondary education. 

From the numbers, the health sector continues to be a top priority, with Sh131.02 billion allocated to the Ministry of Health. This budget focuses on upgrading health facilities, procuring medical supplies, advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and reproductive and maternal health among others. Before amendments, Sh100.013 billion was allocated to the State Department for Medical Services and Sh26.83 billion to the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards.

In the 2023/2024 budget, the health sector received Sh122.6 billion. Following an eight-week doctor’s strike summed up with demonstrations, this slight increase in the 2024/2025 budget reflects ongoing efforts to strengthen the healthcare system post-COVID-19 and address notable and persistent health challenges.

[Additional reporting by Jennifer Anyango]

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