BY CYRUS KAMAU
As a pessimistic individual, I was not expecting so much but after listening to the Finance Minister, I must admit that Thursday’s was a devolved Budget with an inclination to overcoming the socio-economic challenges the country is grappling with.
Right on target were the cost cutting measures that the government is willing to adopt including allocating only one car that does not exceed 1800cc to all senior government officials, meaning that many SUVs will be disposed off and these funds reallocated to proper development.
But significantly, the Minister has proposed to cut expenses in advertisement, telephone expenses and the never ending Task Forces. These have been given a red card and it is a genuine start towards resuscitating an ailing economy.
I am not sure whether in devolution we start with the economy because the Budget has just demonstrated that to achieve full economic growth, resources have to be allocated evenly and this was a major score to boost the economic growth in all constituencies in Kenya.
It is a gigantic task as the Constituency Development Fund has not been one of the most transparent undertakings. But nevertheless, with the increased allocations, it is the prerogative of each MP to ensure that the funds allocated for various projects are indeed spent as per original intent.
With our economy being over reliant on agriculture, it is noteworthy that Mr Kenyatta has re-looked at the issue of using prudent farming methods such as irrigation.
We cannot lose sight of initiatives employed to resettle Internally Displaced Persons for them to go back to their productive element. This is a clear indication that as an economy, we are looking at never having hungry citizens when we have resources that can be utilised.
We are placed strategically at the heart of Africa; able to navigate in all directions from our vantage position, and the Budget took cognisance of that through the infrastructure development of an additional new port, the railway line and the support of the ICT industry per constituency.
This will make Kenya competitive in terms of resources and manpower and a preferred hub to do trade with partners in turn stimulating economic growth. The various amendments and tax benefits that have been extended will stimulate the whole process.
We are looking at the process of an economic bounce-back now that the government has woken up and the fact that Agenda 4 in the reform process has been entrenched in the financing. It is time for Kenya to move on. The fact that there will be a new code governing the officers in charge of Finance in all sectors is a clear indication that at last we can see light at the end of the tunnel.
The Finance Minister has rubbed us the right way but the million dollar question is, can this be implemented? Can the era of impunity, corruption, nepotism and lack of patriotism end?
People are asking where will the money to finance the Budget come from? The Finance Minister called it short to mid-term borrowing. He was tactical when he proposed that more thanSh1 trillion in pension funds be invested in government and infrastructure bonds.
I believe he has more than resources at hand to meet his obligations of the budget!
We are citizens of the world and we have to be able to compete globally and there are no short cuts. It has to be done! It is a good beginning when the poor have been cushioned and not over burdened.
Ordinary citizens and businesses have been considered. It is not time to burden anyone but to try and stimulate and spur growth in all sectors in line with vision 2030.
Indeed Mr Kenyatta you have set the road to economic recovery. The citizens will give you support as long as you keep checks and balances in place.
It is possible!
(Cyrus Kamau is the General Manager, Capital Group Limited)