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Uhuru to deliver Budget on June 8

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – The country\’s Budget for the next fiscal year will be read on June 8.

"The Budget speech for the fiscal year 2011/2012 will be delivered in the National Assembly at 3pm," Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said in brief statement.

The Finance Minister increased spending in 2010/2011 in a Budget that was geared towards boosting economic recovery and reducing poverty in east Africa\’s largest economy.

This time around, Mr Kenyatta is faced with a dilemma of finding a policy that will blend protecting the 2010 economic growth rate, restrict rising cost of living, spurring the economy\’s ability to create jobs and put more money in the pockets of households by supporting key sectors.

The Kenyan economy created 504,000 new jobs last year, just 1,000 more than those created in 2009, a signal that the economic expansion was not sufficient to oil the job creation machinery.

Most of the new jobs were mainly in the construction, building, wholesale, retail, hotel and restaurant sectors.

Kenya has cut its growth forecast for this year to 4.2 percent from an earlier projection of 5.7 percent given by the Finance Minister, as surging inflation and weakening currency continue to pile pressure on the country\’s economy.

Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya last week also warned that poor rainfall, high food prices and political instability as the country enters an election year in 2012 could further hurt growth prospects.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has also instructed the Finance Minister to factor sanitary towels for schools in the coming financial year which will be provided free to needy girls in schools.

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Members of Parliament have accused the Minister of flouting the Fiscal Management Act of 2009 enacted last year, after he failed to table the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) by March 21 as stipulated by the Act, and instead presenting it later, without an accompanying memorandum from the Treasury.

Mr Kenyatta has also been accused of violating the new Constitution for not publishing revenue and expenditure estimates for the 2011/2012 Financial Year by the end of April – as decreed by the new charter.

Article 221 compels the Minister in charge of Finance to table estimates of revenue and expenditure for the new financial year at least two months before the end of the preceding financial year.

Article 204 requires the Finance Minister to allocate 0.5 per cent of all ordinary Government revenue to the newly created Equalisation Fund, which will go towards developing marginalised areas a fete the treasury has failed to meet this year.

The Minister blamed "technical difficulties" and lack of a law determining how article 221 should be implemented.

Mr Kenyatta has also implied that Article 221 will only become applicable during the next Government.

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