Cabinet cuts IEBC repeat election budget to Sh10bn

A Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Cabinet has cut the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) budget for the repeat presidential election to Sh10 billion amid lower tax collection.

The IEBC managers had sought Sh12.2 billion to finance the October 26 — previously October 17 — polls, whose cost the Treasury had estimated at Sh15 billion when factoring other expenses like security.

But a brief from State House on Thursday said the Cabinet had settled on a lower figure through a supplementary budget.

“This allocation was based on a proposed budget submitted by the electoral agency, IEBC,” a statement from State House said.

The commission is expected to procure new ballot boxes, print ballot papers and pay temporary election workers.

Through its lawyer Paul Muite, the IEBC had asked the Supreme Court to be allowed to re-use the boxes used in the August 8 poll to cut costs, but the petition run through legal challenges.

The law requires all election materials to be preserved for three years after poll.

The repeat poll comes amid a slowdown in the economy that has seen some investors delaying decisions after the Supreme Court nullified the results of an August 8 presidential election citing irregularities in the tallying process.

Kenya lowered its 2017 economic growth forecast to 5.5 per cent due to drought and political uncertainty. The government’s revenue collection for the year starting July is behind target by Sh29 billion.

This has forced a cut on non-essential expenditure like travel, motoring, entertainment and furniture expenses to fund the poll. The revenue target is Sh1.54 trillion for the fiscal year.

The Sh10 billion budget will take the total election expenditure to Sh60 billion including the Sh50 billion used in the August 8 poll to fund the IEBC and other agencies.

Henry Rotich, the Cabinet Secretary in the National Treasury and Wafula Chebukati , IEBC chairman were unavailable to comment on how the electoral agency will plug the Sh2 billion budget hole.

They did not return calls or text messages on the matter.

Parliament will have the final say on the planned expenditure when it starts debate on the supplementary budget on Tuesday. 

“That is only the direct cost. There is the need to provide for security and so those costs could be much higher than the Sh12 billion. This was not budgeted for,” Kamau Thugge, the principal secretary in the Treasury ministry said last week.