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Economy

Rotich assures police of extra cash to secure polls

Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich at a past event. file photo | nmg
Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich at a past event. file photo | nmg 

The Kenya Police’s quest to keep the country safe during next Tuesday’s General Election will be fully funded despite Parliament’s failure to allocate the agency enough money in the national budget, Treasury secretary Henry Rotich has said.

The police and the Interior ministry had asked for Sh8.2 billion to finance “indirect expenses” related to polls security but the MPs rejected the request, leaving the institution in a weak position.

Some 150,000 security personnel are expected to man election centres as well as respond to any breakdown in law and order — posing a massive logistical challenge for the agency.  

Mr Rotich yesterday said the Ministry of Interior had asked the Treasury for additional funds to fill up the budget hole.

“Security is paramount and hence the need to treat this as a matter of urgency,” he said.

The National Assembly had declined to pass the Sh8.2 billion vote, citing the multiple and more deserving demands on the Exchequer.

Mr Rotich is now moving to invoke a provision in law that allows the Treasury to spend cash allocated to other less urgent needs and regularise the same later through a mini-budget.

“Depending on the need, the cash will be made available and then seek post-approval after we have regularised it through a supplementary budget,” he said.

Mr Rotich said the Treasury will follow a similar path to finance the swearing-in of the President after the August 8 elections.

Secure hotspots

Parliament approved Sh3.8 billion for police’s election-related expenses, out of which Sh1.5 billion is to secure hotspots around the country during the highly contested election.

The remaining Sh2.3 billion was spent on police operation expenses in the financial year that ended June 30.

Next Tuesday’s presidential election, in which the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta is defending his seat against Opposition leader Raila Odinga, has caused jitters across the nation — slowing down the pace of economic activity in the country.

Mr Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party is seeking a second and final five-year term while Mr Odinga is making his third consecutive stab at the Presidency on the ticket of the Nasa coalition.

Fear violence

Thousands of Kenyan families have been leaving major towns for their rural homes while others have crossed the border into neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, fearing a possible outbreak of violence after the election.

Major bus companies such as Modern Coast and Easy Coach had by Monday registered full bookings for buses headed to Tanzania.

The next available bookings for the routes, officials said, is August 10, two days after the elections.

The Constitution requires presidential election results to be announced within seven days but the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it is working with a four-day window.

The Sh3.8 billion budgeted for the police and the unfunded request of Sh8.2 billion are contained in the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Report prepared by the Treasury.

“The State department for Interior requested Sh8,216,120,210 for indirect expenses related to security operations during the electioneering period towards provision of security-related activities prior to and during the electioneering period,” the report says.

The request included Sh4,266,791,605 in the financial year 2016/17 and Sh3,949,328,605 in financial year 2017/18.

The Treasury is required by law to prepare and make public the document that shows expenses tied to the poll.

It must be issued four months before the poll or April 4, but the Treasury made it public only two weeks ago.

The police’s Sh3.8 billion allocation was partly to boost security operations in terrorism-hit towns of Lamu, Mandera and Wajir and other flashpoints ahead of elections.

Yesterday, Interior principal secretary Karanja Kibicho said at a press briefing that the police have put in place mechanisms to ensure peaceful elections and seamless enforcement of law and order.

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