BY MACHEL WAIKENDA
To paraphrase a common observation: “Failure to plan implies you have planned to fail.”
Kenyans are well known to make all manner of plans, project proposals, briefs and position papers. So, today, let’s talk about the National Budget and how it will shape, affect, impact or distort our lives over the next financial year.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich presented the Jubilee Alliance’s second trillion-shilling 2014/2015 Kenyan Budget statement on Thursday. Parliament has already approved the budget estimates that were presented to it by the Treasury.
Over the years, the budget has been a document that occupies public discourse for a week or two and then we all go back to our normal business.
However, it is important to note that the budget is the government’s national economic policy blueprint for the next financial year. It shapes how as a country, we navigate through the economic and social minefield in building the economy.
But the budget policy as presented is a mere plan – a projection of things to come. It is a statement of milestones and possible cost of getting the country’s economy from one milestone to another. How well it shall serve the public interest, however, will be the subject of debate throughout the next 12 months.
The Budget and Appropriations Committee in Parliament has adjusted the 2014/2015 budget to Sh1.769 trillion as proposed from Treasury to Sh1.779 trillion. This budget comes at a time that we have sluggish economic prospects triggered by rising insecurity, high cost of living and slow performance of key sectors such as agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
Going by the statement issued by Rotich, the budget for 2014/15 is expected to accelerate economic growth to the double-digit growth envisioned in Vision 2030. This budget has been hailed as one that has put into perspective the current prevailing conditions in our economy.
It is important to note that this level of growth will only be supported by increased production in agriculture, continued investments in infrastructure, energy, building and construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale and financial intermediation.
According to the budget statement, a significant amount has been set aside to boost security for investment, growth and employment. There is a projection that economic growth will be 5.8 percent for 2014, rising to 6.4 percent in 2015.
Some of the biggest spending is going to priority areas that will definitely spur growth. There is Sh116.7 billion for roads, Sh43.6 billion for energy, Sh53.3 billion for agricultural services and Sh1 billion for an agribusiness seedfund and Sh9.5 billion for expansion and construction of irrigation projects countrywide.
It is also notable to see that government is also looking at ways of addressing the plight of the less disadvantaged in society, combat poverty, and promote equity through social protection safety net in the form of cash transfers.