BY MWALIMU MATI
In 2007, the Kenya National Budget was set at about Ksh 700 billion (about USD 10.7 billion).
Of this amount, the Government has to make loan repayments and pension payments (for retired civil servants) to the tune of Ksh 141 billion (or USD 2.1 billion).
Of the remaining Ksh 559 billion (USD 8.6 billion), the Government planned to spend Ksh 300 billion (USD 4.6 billion) on running 34 Ministries.
After catering for Government’s running costs (salaries, equipment, furniture both office and household), there is only Ksh 260 billion (or USD 4 billion) for Development Expenditure available. However not all this money comes from the Government. In fact it borrows about Ksh 52 billion (or USD 800 million) for building roads, improving infrastructure, providing health and education services etc… from international donors. In the past the Government has misused loans and left Kenyans to repay.
At the end, only Ksh 200 billion (USD 3.2 billion) will remain for spending on the people of Kenya – the majority of whom live below the poverty line.
Now that the Cabinet has been increased to 43, the Government must spend more. Back of the Envelope Calculations say that the average recurrent cost of running a Ministry is Ksh 8.8 billion – or USD 130million. Therefore 9 new Ministries would cost 9 times Ksh 8.8 billion equivalent to Ksh 79.2 billion or USD 1.2 billion. This increase wipes out the Ksh 50 billion, the Ministry of Finance will raise from selling some of its Safaricom shares.
The money for the new Ministries will, of necessity, be deducted from the Ksh 200 billion development budget (USD 3.2 billion).
So at the end of the day, having 43 Ministries means that Kenyans are not likely to have more than Ksh 130 billion (USD 2billion) spent on them for Education, Health, Road Construction and Water to take a few examples of what Government is meant to actually be doing to develop Kenya.
It is tragic that a 43 member Cabinet means that Kenyans will expect only about 19% of the Ksh 700 billion national budget to be spent on developing the country. It appears as if the GOK has ceased to have a development function and exists only to tax Kenyans, and spend taxpayer’s money on GOK recurrent costs (salaries, loans and pensions).
What will those who pay for all this (taxpayers and donors) have to say to this economic mismanagement knowing that Kenyans:
– live with inflation above 20%
– want an end to the sad situation whereby well over 150,000 IDPs live in tents (supported by the Red Cross – not the GOK)
– will soon suffer from food shortages this year and have to rely on charity
– thought that the National Accord was intended to facilitate relief to the poorest and worst off – and not to construct a bloated government
– have heard that the Government has asked donors for Ksh 31 billion (USD 476 million) to resettle the IDPs, because the GOK is unable to raise this amount from its own resources.
And to cap it all, Parliament will now have to scrutinise the budget for this leviathan Grand Coalition with only 129 MPs not in Government. Last year over 36 vote heads were guillotined, and passed unscrutinised, for lack of debating time. This included the budget for the Ministry of Finance, which prepared the budget for 2007, and suspiciously doubled its own budget. The death knell is being sounded for parliamentary check on executive authority.
Finally, are the Kenyan people architects of their own misfortune, or victims of rapacity in the political elite?