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Treasury announces tough austerity measures to finance poll

NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 15 – The government has announced a raft of tough austerity measures seeking to cut spending on non-priority items in an effort to plug the financial deficit created by the fresh presidential election estimated to cost Sh15 billion.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich says the measures affect all Arms of Government and includes a freeze on foreign and local trips by government officials, buying of furniture and motor vehicles, as well as setting limits on hospitality expenditures.

The announcement by Rotich comes a day after Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua directed all top government officials to seek express permission from President Uhuru Kenyatta for any foreign trips.

“This will affect all Arms of Government including constitutional offices and will discuss with county governments to reorganise their budgets to reflect emerging issues such as food security,” said Rotich at the launch of the 2018/19 budget preparation process.

Rotich added that the Treasury is targeting other non-essential expenditures in the austerity measures which will affect non-priority project spending, budget cuts for training and seminars, and a freeze in transfers to semi-autonomous bodies.

He says the Treasury will in the next 10 days present a supplementary budget to the National Assembly seeking to realign the government’s changing priorities in the face of the recent challenges including drought, industrial unrest and a depressed revenue collection.

“We are going to create the fiscal space to address the deficit. We don’t want to go out and borrow new money that’s why we are looking at a serious austerity measure to see where can save,” said Rotich.

The August 8 General Election cost the country nearly Sh50 billion in what was billed as one of the most expensive elections in the world.

The Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission has presented to the Treasury a budget of Sh12.2 billion for a repeat of the presidential election excluding security expenditure associated with the election.

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