Politics and policy
MPs push to cut public ads in newspapers
Posted Wednesday, May 30 2012 at 20:23
Parliament is seeking to slash the government’s advertising budget as part of cost-cutting measures that seek to reduce the Treasury’s estimates by up to Sh25 billion.
The Parliament's Budget Committee under the chairmanship of Maragua MP Elias Mbau wants government departments and agencies to cut back on the Sh4 billion they spent on advertising last year by posting the information on their Web sites and carry small advertisements in the media directing citizens online.
A deep cut in government’s advertising expenditure risks slowing down the growth of Kenya’s media and ultimately limit the citizens’ access to information.
Naivasha MP John Mututho, who is a member of the committee, said advertising spend is one of the many expenditure lines facing cuts to help manage costs. Also targeted are ministries’ travel, furniture and entertainment budgets.
Mr Mututho said the intention is to reduce the advertising budget by up to Sh1 billion in the next financial year.
“The government is losing so much money in advertisements that could be used to finance other programmes,” the MP said during a Budget Committee hearing chaired.
The team has directed that the Auditor-General be used to pilot the scheme that could in the long term cut government’s advertising spend by half.
The government’s Sh4 billion advertising spend was expected to rise significantly in the next couple of years with the ongoing expansion of the State’s role under the new Constitution.
The government is the second largest single spender on advertising after mobile telecoms firm Safaricom which spent Sh5 billion in 2011.
The list of top spenders includes consumer goods manufacturer Unilever (Sh1.5 billion), Reckitt Benkiser (Sh1.4 billion) and East Africa Breweries Limited (Sh1.4 billion), according to market research firm Synovate.
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Mr Mututho said that many Kenyans have access to the Internet and there is no reason for state agencies to continue spending so much money in the publication of tenders and reports through the media.
However, data from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) shows that less than half of the population has access to the Internet.
The government uses advertising to inform the public of its rights and entitlements, telling the public of its activities, inviting public comment on proposed rules, warning the public of the perils of certain actions and discouraging harmful or dangerous behaviour.