Citizens demand more funding for key sectors

May 30, 2012
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The budgetary allocation for security remains a major concern for citizens/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – Kenyans want the government to increase funding in major sectors including agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and security in the coming 2012/2013 Budget.

Citizens from 17 counties out of the 47 who spoke to members of the parliamentary budget committee during public hearings on May 11, 12 and 14 said the various allocations recommended in the budget estimates are not enough.

In an interview with Capital FM Business, parliamentary budget committee chairman Elias Mbau said over 50 percent of Kenyans said the current Sh22.1 billion suggested for agriculture is not enough, with many demanding increase of farm inputs, reduced cost of fertilizer and training facilities for farmers.

“Kenyans everywhere proposed that the National Cereals and Produce Board be enabled to buy maize from local farmers and not from external countries, so that we motivate our local farmers,” said Mbau.

On health issues, Kenyans proposed for the reallocation of Sh5billion from the Public Health Ministry to the Medical Service Ministry to facilitate purchase of more drugs in public hospitals. They say there is need for the next budget to ensure that 15 percent of it goes to the health sector.

“I would love to see, as the chairman of the budget committee of Parliament, that every county has a cancer screening machine so that Kenyans do not have to die because they could not access the screening facilities that are stationed in Nairobi,” emphasized Mbau.

Concerning security, they want removal of police officers from providing security services to VIPs and instead provide security to Kenyans at large, while VIPs are protected by trained National Youth Service personnel.

On the other hand, the citizens have called on the government to ensure that 10 percent of the coming budget is set for education. This should be by increasing the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Budget by Sh1.7 billion to facilitate the employment of Early Child Development teachers.

Mbau added that many Kenyans supported the method suggested by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) for the allocation of 15 percent of nominal budget to county governments, but urged few amendments be made.

The members of the parliamentary budget committee who are currently on a three-day retreat in Naivasha to prepare a final budget report, have also received proposals from other parliamentary departmental committees representing the interests of various government ministries.

The parliamentary departmental committee on transport, roads, public works and housing wants Sh1.2 billion given to the Ministry of Transport for the purchase of two new ferries, Sh1 billion for the construction of a second container terminal at the port of Mombasa, Sh700 million for the construction of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport runaway among other projects.

The latter has also recommended that Treasury allocate Sh4.7 billion for the revival of 26 projects in the Ministry of Public Works, Sh3 billion to the Ministry of Housing for the formation of a civil servants housing fund and Sh3 billion for slum upgrading.

The departmental committee on administration and national security has requested the budget committee to include in its report, its suggestions to the Treasury of setting aside Sh2.5 billion to the ministry of internal security for the recruitment of 3,500 police officers.

The agriculture committee wants 10 percent of the national budget be set for agriculture, from the current 5 percent, to be in line with the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.

However all these recommendations and others from various stakeholders are now in the hands of the budget committee which may either consider them or throw them out in its final budget report which is expected to be presented in Parliament mid June.

“After we do the final budget committee report, the Ministry of Finance will have no option except to produce the Appropriation Bill and table it in Parliament allocating as we have recommended,” added Mbau.

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