NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – Parliament has been allocated a proposed Sh37.3 billion in the financial year 2020/2021 to aid it in performing its oversight and legislative role.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani while reading the 2020/21 budget said his ministry faced tough decisions in allocating monies in different sectors with the aim of moving the country forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Judiciary’s funding was set at Sh18.1 billion with the Auditor General’s office set to secure a Sh5.2 billion funding to support oversight on the expenditure of financial resources.
Attributing the tight budget projections to the coronavirus pandemic, locust invasions and floods, Yatani noted that the government stands to lose Sh172 billion.
“We have had to review our projections due to COVID-19. The closure of airspaces, the imposition of curfew are among some of the restrictions that have disrupted our normal way of lives,” he said.
He however, exuded confidence that the debt level in the country is sustainable and clarified that the government is now shifting towards concessional borrowing to ease the debt burden.
“The International Monetary Fund has projected that the global economy would perform worse than the 2008 recession,” Yatani said.
He added that owing to the pandemic, the economies in Sub-Saharan Africa will contract by 1.6 per cent in 2020 alone signifying a weakened economy punctuated by massive job losses.
To support the ongoing efforts in the fight against COVID-19, CS Yatani said the World Bank has already lent the country a total of Sh108 billion whereas the Africa Development Bank has supported Kenya with Sh22.5 billion.
With all the major sectors hard hit by the effects of the virus, CS Yatani projected a 2.5 per cent growth of the economy in 2020.
“Hotel, tourism, transport and agriculture sectors are the most affected,” he said.
Yatani estimated that close to 1.7 million Kenyans, majority of whom work in the informal sector, have lost their jobs since the first case of the virus was reported in the country in March.
In the Agriculture sector he associated the decline of fortunes to low demand for horticultural products as well as tea and coffee.
The Health sector was the biggest gainer in the budget presented on Thursday, with Sh111.7 billion set aside to facilitate the strengthening of the healthcare systems amid the coronavirus pandemic.
To stimulate cash flow in the economy, CS Yatani warned that Treasury will be forced to withhold funds to ministries departments and agencies that fail to clear pending bills.
Another Sh10 billion was allocated to Kazi Mtaani programme, an ambitious government initiative that seeks to recruit close to 200, 000 youths across all major towns in the country.
“This will ensure the youths who have lost jobs due to the pandemic get to have a source of livelihood,” Yatani said.
The 2020/21 budget is centered on stimulating the economy to protect livelihoods and cushion against job losses and adverse effects of the COVID-19.