By Mzalendo Reporter
The People’s Budget
A day before Kenya’s Finance Minister Amos Kimunya read in Parliament the 2008/2009 financial year budget, civil society groups presented an alternative fiscal plan which they called The People’s Budget. Among the key proposals contained in The People’s Budget is that salaries of Members of Parliament be reduced by a half and be liable to taxation.Such a move, the groups said, will free huge resources that can be used on other crucial sectors such as teachers, police and health personnel. A Kenyan MP earns a gross salary of KSh 800,000 per month.
The civil society groups that prepared and presented the People’s Budget are the Socio-Economic Rights Foundation, the New Dawn: Nascent Start, the Nairobi People Settlement Network and the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign.
Proposed also were reduction of VAT to 13 percent, redirection of part of the military and defence spending to social protection, education, health, water, infrastructure among other crucial sectors that directly touches on the poor.
The Peoples Budget also proposed that adequate funds be allocated to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and also more cash towards completion of popular people driven constitution review including a referendum.
Other highlights of the People’s Budget are as follows:
Poverty: Government to introduce a Basic Income Grant (BIG) as one way of reducing poverty among the poor. Proposed was that at least KSh3, 000 be paid each months to any unemployed Kenyan aged 18 and above. The money should come from tax system.
Employment: To increase employment opportunities, it was proposed that government embark on public works programme, widespread community services and accelerated programmes for skills development. It was also proposed that government invest more in employment creating sectors especially targeting the youth.
Housing: It was proposed that government and financial institutions to extend more affordable finance for housing to low income earners. Government also asked to allocate more funds for housing development especially for the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme. Another proposal was that Government to set aside funds to purchase land for resettlement of people living in slums e.g. Mukuru Kayaba and Mukuru Kwa Njenga in Nairobi.
Water and Sanitation: It was proposed that government support community sanitation improvement programmes. Increased funding for water supply within people’s settlements and renovation of dilapidated sewerage facilities were proposed. The People’s Budget also proposed that Local authorities to put up dumping sites as a way of ending haphazard disposal of solid waste.
Food Security: State to set aside more funds to expand government grain stock to cushion any food shortage. Government to crack a whip on cartels that sell farm inputs at inflated prices. Government asked to adopt measures to boost food production such as lowering of fertilizer prices and provision of other subsidies. Increased funding for irrigation schemes countrywide and increased allocation towards a national tree planting programme and re-afforestation were also proposed.
Transport: Establishment of a national subsidized public transport system that is safe and fast was proposed. Government was asked to reduce excise duty on imported spare parts from 20% to 10%. It was further proposed that amount of parking fee, which currently stand at KSh70 per day within Nairobi’s Central Business District be increased.
Arid and Semi-Arid Areas: The People’s Budget proposed that more funds be allocated for constructing abattoirs. State asked to allocate more funds for revamping the Anti-Stock Theft Unit and strengthen peace and reconciliation structures as a way of combating insecurity. It was proposed that more funds be allocated for putting up solar energy plant and for putting up more schools. Government also asked to establish a special fund to increase water network in these regions.
Youth: It was proposed that civil servants who have attained retirement age to quit office to pave way for younger generation. The budget proposed that the Youth Enterprise Development Fund policy be changed to enable individual fund applications rather than the group’s requirement. Government also asked to ensure that 5 percent of all government procurements are sourced from Youth owned enterprises.
Women: Government asked to increase the Women Development Funds kitty. State also asked to provide finances for early childcare in order to give women more time to look for employment.