NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday presented the 2011/2012 Budget which he said was targeted at supporting the economy to remain resilient.
In the Budget under the theme, "Building resilience and sustaining inclusive growth,\’ Mr Kenyatta said the focus would be to ensure continued economic development that is sustainable and whose fruits are evenly distributed to all.
While acknowledging that this would not be an easy task, the Deputy Prime Minister said the government would require the input of every Kenyan to enable the country achieve this goal.
In recognition of the role of the private sector as the engine for growth, Mr Kenyatta said the government would facilitate them by ensuring a conducive environment for doing business.
"This includes ensuring that interest rates which have remained high in the last few years and remained a cause of concern for the government are brought down."
To this end, he acknowledged that the government would need the help of commercial banks whom he urged to implement measures such as the adoption of agency banking and embrace ICT so as to lower their transaction costs.
If they achieved this, he expressed optimism that they would be able to pass on the benefits of reduced costs to consumers and thus help to ensure cheaper credit that would in turn stimulate private sector development.
In addition, Mr Kenyatta assured that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would continue to monitor the macroeconomic stability to ensure that it remains stable.
The Central Bank, he added, would also be charged with ensuring a fiscal policy aimed at gradually lowering the economic deficit in order to ensure debt sustainability while at the same time taking care of the long term development needs of the country.
In a Budget that was presented against a backdrop of high cost of living which has negatively impacted Kenyans, the Finance Minister said he had allocated more resources to deepen the base for food security in the country.
Most of these resources would go towards irrigation and agriculture to ensure food availability and sustainability, he disclosed.
People living in Arid and Semi Arid Areas (ASAL) also have a reason to smile with the announcement that Sh1 billion has been set aside in the budget to support them.
Mr Kenyatta said the money would be shared equally among the counties in these areas in order to help alleviate the effects of drought and construction of dams.
Overall, the government intends to bring under irrigation 36,100 hectares of agricultural land.
Once these measures were implemented, he expressed optimism that the high cost of living would come down in the near future.
And in an effort to assure Kenyans that the government cares for the plight of its citizens, Mr Kenyatta revealed that school-going girls from across the country would be able to benefit from free sanitary towels from the government.
This followed the allocation of Sh300 million for the purchase of the pads which he said would help facilitate girls to attend classes all year round.
The minister appealed to other private sector players and non-governmental organisations to complement the gesture to ensure that girls across the country are able to stay in schools.
On the development side, a number of measures were proposed which would help to provide impetus for further economy development.
Citing the importance of having solid infrastructure for a developing economy such as Kenya\’s, Mr Kenyatta said he had enhanced the budgetary allocation for physical infrastructure to Sh221.4 billion.
This amount, he pointed out, would go towards improving the existing infrastructure and the building of new ones especially in the power, roads and transportation systems.
One of the beneficiaries will be the Roads Ministry which was allocated Sh109 billion up from Sh90.2 billion that it got in the current financial year.
The Finance minister further observed that there was need for the country to develop alternative sources of energy for the survival of the country\’s economy and has allocated Sh66.7 billion to the sector.
Sh16.1 billion, he said would go towards the development of geothermal energy while a further Sh5.6 billion will be used to expand electricity connections in various public utilities in rural Kenya.
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