NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – The implementation of the Sh22 billion economic stimulus programme is still on course despite delays occasioned by the need to develop a framework to guide the process.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday that since its launch in July last year, Sh3.25 billion had already been disbursed for various projects while another Sh5.56 billion for the construction of different facilities across the country will be released as soon as the tendering process is completed.
“School construction is anticipated to begin early next month (March) with a budget of approximately Sh7.47 billion, the food production component is now coming into the second season of planting and they (Agriculture Ministry) are well ahead of the schedule that we had set out for them,” he said while crediting the framework which would provide lessons and best practices for fiscal decentralisation of funds in the future.
“We now have a framework, a framework which we shall continue developing as we go along,” he said while explaining that its development took long as they had to consult with relevant stakeholders and was therefore partly to blame for the delay in kick-starting the project that was initially expected to conclude in December 2009.
The need for a fiscal stimulus was outlined in the 2009/2010 budget speech as one of the measures that the government would employ to broaden economic activities at the constituency levels and ensure that economy returned on to the recovery path.
It involved investing in the construction of health centres, centres of excellence, horticultural markets and ‘jua kali’ sheds which are to be established at the local levels to jumpstart the economy which was reeling under the effects of many challenges including the post election violence, the global financial crisis and drought.
Mr Kenyatta expressed confidence that most of the projects that have been earmarked for implementation would be successfully concluded by the end of this financial year.
He said they plan to continue with the program in the future as it has many benefits that can go a long way in not only stimulating economic development but also support the attainment of the Vision 2030 development goals.
“The program has multi benefits and therefore there is good reason for us to continue with it in the next year. We do believe also that it would give guidance towards the overall aspiration of the Kenyan people for resources to be more greatly devolved and to have greater participation of the citizenry in decision making as to what their priorities are,” the minister added.
By roping in the local communities, the government hoped to create a sense of ownership and therefore succeed in overcoming social-economic challenges that the country was facing.
“We are urging all Kenyans to believe in the capacity of our government to deliver results. We are making significant strides aimed at catapulting our country to become a global player in the world economy,” Mr Kenyatta appealed during a media briefing on the progress of the stimulus programme.
Also present was Agriculture Minister William Ruto who pledged to continue subsidising fertilizer in a bid to cushion farmers from high input costs. Mr Ruto said they would provide the commodity at Sh2,000 down from the current Sh2,500 in order to assist farmers to increase food productivity.
“We were able to bring down the cost of fertiliser from an average of Sh6,000 to an average of Sh2,500. We have 1.5 million bags in our stores and we are going to sell it at Sh2,000 this year,” he said.
The intervention measures that included the free distribution of seeds and subsidised fertilser coupled with the adequate short rains that were received in many parts of the country had resulted in a bumper harvest of maize.
About four million bags are expected to be harvested in several parts of the country which will help reduce the current maize deficit in the country to 12 million bags.
On his part, Fisheries Minister Paul Otuoma whose ministry is charged with the construction of 28,000 fish ponds in 139 constituencies said the plan was still on course.
He expressed optimism that once completed, the ponds would produce approximately 10,000 Metric Tonnes of fish and complement the 100,000 MT produced at Lake Victoria.