This year’s budget by Finance Minister Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta I think is the best Kenya has had in many years. This was a unique budget in that it was the high compared to other years, I did not get bored listening to the Finance Minister read the budget and also noted that most members of parliament were alert and did not sleep as has been their tradition. When the common citizen like me looked forward to hear about bei ya unga, petroli na mafuta ya taa (price of maize flour, petrol and paraffin), he did more than we expected by touching on every aspect of our lives and allocated funds that if used for the purpose they are meant for, can improve living conditions of all Kenyans.
In this economic hash times the Finance Minister tried to tackle most issues affecting the common citizen and I can summarize as follow:-
Food security and Water conservation
In order to improve food security, he has allocated funds to build wholesale fresh produce markets. Enhance food production to eradicate famine and hunger by allocating funds for water harvesting, scientific farming methods etc… Ksh3 billion allocated for rehabilitation of lands in Northern Kenya through irrigation. Money allocated for fish farming ponds in all constituencies, 7m/constituency for water projects.
For conservation of environment, Ksh1.2m was allocated for tree planting by primary school children. 5 water towers to be rehabilitated, exemption of taxes on relief foods and supplies. However I expected to hear more on Agriculture
He allocated funds to Community Policing engaging the youth and allocated funds to purchase motorbikes to assist in this.
Ksh4b or 20m per constituency for construction of Health Centers all over the country. 4200 more nurses to be hired on contract to work in the health centers.
Money allocated for mobile computer laboratories in each constituency to be used by schools. Additional money allocated for free primary and subsidized secondary school education. Ksh1.5b for upgrading rural schools, Ksh1.3b for recruiting more teachers on contract basis to improve quality of education.
Youth empowerment and Job creation
Ksh2.5m per constituency for construction of Jua Kali (artisans) sheds. 210m or 1m per constituency to equip the sheds. 500m allocated for Youth Development funds. More nurses and teachers will be hired.
Women issues and empowerment
500m allocated for Women Enterprise kitty. 19,000 3 bed roomed houses to be built for (internally displaced persons (IDPs), priority to be given to households headed by women. Duty on cosmetics reduced and Duty on sanitary raw materials off.
Communication & Technology
VAT on mobile handsets removed.
Money allocated for Greening Program to conserve energy. Ksh 400m allocated for installation of Solar all over the country.
Physically challenged persons
Kshs 200m interest free revolving funds for operating business. Tax relief on their income up to Ksh 150,000. He also allocated some money for the Elderly.
New generation log-books to be introduced. To avoid time wasting between Police and commercial vehicle offenders, police will be allowed to issue fines on the spot. I just hope police will not take advantage of this by imposing hefty fines when the offender is not able to pay they take a bribe. The other issue is that they could issue fake receipts to the offenders and pocket the money. Quick inspection and registration of commercial vehicles before they are used on our roads and bicycles zero rated.
Duty on Synthetic yarn reduced and that of second hand clothes as well. Many people cannot afford new clothes so this will be welcomed by citizens who wear and also those who sell second hand clothes.
Investing & Finance
VAT exempt on banking services. At one time many Kenyan’s wanted to get rich quick and joined Pyramid Schemes which fleeced them of thousands and millions of shillings. Now the government has come to protect citizens from future cons by outlawing such schemes. Investors will be encouraged to also invest outside major urban centers.
Compared to others, I think this is the highest allocation, Ksh140b for roads, rails etc... MPs applauded when he mentioned that Constituency Development Funds (CDF) handled by the MPs will get a share of Fuel Levy funds.
Tourism Ministry was allocated 400m for marketing. This is good for the country since Tourism generates some good income for the government.
Ministry of Finance together with the public will monitor Donor funds on basis of project performance at every stage to ensure transparency. For good governance to be achieved, reforms must be made, hence Ksh 2b was allocated for implementation of Agenda 4 of the National Accord. Ksh 3.1b has been allocated for reforms of the Judiciary.
It was good news to hear that Ministries spending has been cut down, phone calls, hospitality and traveling costs reduced. Each Minister will now have one official vehicle that will not be their usual fuel guzzlers since they will only be allowed vehicles with engine capacity not exceeding 1800cc. The other vehicles will be sold and proceeds used for resettlement of IDPs. This has been worrying since this coalition government has many Ministries and the spending is hefty, while many Kenyan’s are starving due to lack of rains. Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta led by example when he went to Parliament in a Passat which consumes less fuel than the usual Mercedes Benz vehicles used by Ministers.
Community Development Funds (CDF)
Apart from the budget being citizen friendly, the amount allocated for CDF for MPs may have also caused them not to snooze as they normally do on every budget reading. Ksh 12b or 60m per constituency allocated for CDF, as I mentioned earlier they will also get a share of Fuel Levy funds from money allocated for infrastructure, the Minister also mentioned part of money allocated for education and other development for constituencies would be added to the CDF kitty and if am not wrong I heard it would add up to something like 105m/constituency. That was very good news that kept MPs totally awake prompting them to make a lot of noise in the house that was stopped by the House Speaker upon Finance Minister’s request to be allowed to continue.
This Budget has been received well by many, especially MPs who had a cause to smile and go home happy. The Task now remains on implementation and financing of the Budget.