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Give us budget for the poor, NGOs urge

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 9 – A United Nations Millennium Campaign lobby met on Tuesday to discuss the Budget ahead of its reading on Thursday.

Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) Coordinator Mwangi Waituru said the budget was coming at a tough economic time that required Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta to strike a balance between the shrinking revenue and the increasing expenditures.

“I sympathise with the Minister, it is his first budget which he has to prepare amidst the global recession worsened by the post election crisis in Kenya,” he said.

Kenya’s economy has greatly suffered with its growth rate dropping from seven percent to 1.7 percent. The country is also grappling with resettling people displaced by the post election violence. Famine resulting to food shortage is also another challenge the country is facing.

Mr Waitiru urged the government not to tie economic growth rate with poverty since the growth is not felt by the poor in the country.

He said more investments should be concentrated on the needs of the poor and called on the media to help in directing priorities of the nation through highlighting the plight of the poor.

Contributing to the discussion Social Significant Economic Forum Executive Director Peter Kariuki said the government had in its previous budgets failed to allocate funds to the various ministries appropriately.

He said last-minute rush by ministries to use remaining funds from the 2008/2009 budget showed funds were not allocated according to their needs because some ministries were unable to meet their expenditures due to the huge responsibilities they had.

Several Ministries were reported by the media to have recently begun using remaining funds ahead of the new allocations on Thursday to avoid returning it as required by law.

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He urged the Finance Ministry to consider responsibilities of each Ministry to determine what amount should be allocated. Mr Kariuki also accused the government of highly contributing to the huge deficit through unnecessary allocations especially on cars, flowers, foreign trips and, among others, entertainment.

“Issues affecting Kenyans should be the priority, why do we have to spend money to order for Mercedes?” he queried.

Parliamentary Budget Committee Chairman Martin Ogindo also urged the President to sign the Fiscal Management Bill to allow Parliament to get involved in the Budget making process.

Basing his claims on serious errors in a recent Supplementary Budget, he said the budget process should be more inclusive to avoid such errors in future.

Mr Ogindo said the Bill will also allow MPs to compel the government to become transparent and accountable in its expenditure and revenue.

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