National focus turns to Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich when he presents the 2018/19 Budget in Parliament on Thursday.
However, unlike in the past when the Budget remained a closely guarded secret among National Treasury mandarins, we now know well in advance what the CS will contain in his briefcase when he hoists it in front of the cameras this week.
Thanks to the Constitution, which institutionalised public participation in budget-making, Kenyans already know they will have to make more sacrifices to fund government spending.
Estimates presented before the National Assembly by the Budget Appropriations Committee indicate the Budget has shot up to a record Sh3.107 trillion, up from Sh2.631 trillion last year.
In what is being described as a transformative Budget, the National government will get Sh1.67 trillion, counties Sh372.7 billion, the Consolidated Fund Sh962.6 billion, Parliament Sh37.6 billion and the Judiciary Sh12 billion.
This year’s Budget comes at a time when the country is engulfed in alleged corruption scandals worth billions of shillings. Corruption has permeated almost all sectors of the economy, specifically government institutions, with public procurement sector seen as the most complicit.
While ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world, Kenya’s seeds of corruption were propagated and nurtured in post-independence regimes but reached alarming proportions in the present political regime.
President Uhuru has responded to public outcry by tasking a multi-agency team comprising the Director of Public Prosecutions, the National Intelligence Service, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Judiciary to fast-track the war against graft.
It is imperative that the agencies conduct investigations into the alleged incidences of corruption, fairly and impartially, sparing no one, whatever their political clout, position in leadership or economic might.
Guilt and complicity must be proved beyond doubt to satisfy those implicated, convict those found guilty through an open and fair judicial process and deter those who may be tempted to engage in social and economic crimes against humanity.
And though there are feelings that the National Youth Service has become a cash cow for corrupt individuals, and that the Judiciary may be frustrating the fight against corruption, the decision by the National Assembly to slash the budgets of the two institutions is misguided. The Judiciary’s budget was cut by Sh2.5 billion and NYS by Sh8.3 billion.
Judiciary needs all the resources it requires to ensure justice becomes shield and defender for all. Enough said. As for the NYS, it is currently the institution squarely addressing one of the most critical issues of concern today—youth unemployment. Slashing its budget, could ground its operations.
Again, the decision poses a major threat to President Uhuru’s ‘Big Four’ legacy, noting his directive in February: “The pillars of the Big Four are held up by the youth. In every area of endeavour our youth are called upon to distinguish themselves. The NYS must play a critical role in the attainment of the agenda”. The youth, women and co-operative societies are expected to drive the Big Four agenda.
Youth have made remarkable impact in up-scaling living conditions in disadvantaged regions and poor urban neighbourhoods, carrying out environmental management, opening up rural access roads, distributing relief food and water and de-silting dams. Therefore, disbanding or under-funding NYS would spell a death knell to these programmes. – [email protected]