Henry Rotich, 44, immediately acknowledged the “challenging” task awaiting him at the Treasury, where he will face the daunting task of keeping expenditure in control, while also facing pressure to ensure that the State spends money on development projects to spur economic growth.
He is not new to the Treasury, where as head of macroeconomics and deputy director of economic affairs, he was just two ranks lower than a permanent secretary.
As if in passing a vote of confidence in Mr Rotich, President struck a personal note when he said “I have worked with him closely” during his time as minister for Finance. The economics graduate from the University of Nairobi will be central to enabling realisation of the Jubilee government’s agenda for the country. He will be the government’s face in matters dealing with mobilisation and sharing of national resources, taking both flak and credit for the country’s economic growth.
His Budget must take into account political promises that the Jubilee Coalition made on the campaign trail, while balancing these with economic realities of the day.
The first task for Mr Rotich will be the preparation and presentation of the national Budget before the parliamentary budget committee by the end of this month.Agencies that come under the Treasury and hence under Mr Rotich’s control include the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which will also be closely watched because of the key roles they play in the economic management of the country. The CBK will be on the spot expected to maintain macroeconomic stability in the face of huge balance of payment deficit — due to the large imports compared to exports — that keeps the Kenya shilling dangerously exposed to turbulence. Mr Rotich must also put pressure on the KRA to collect more tax revenues.
The Constitution has entrenched better management of public resources in the public financial management law, which Mr Rotich will be expected to take into account .
One of the centrepieces of the plan is to ensure that ministries finances have a single account at the CBK. This is to ensure that whenever cash is available, the ministry that is ready to use it can have exchequer releases signed immediately. That way a ministry that has an urgent need but does not have cash in its account does not have to initiate borrowing from the domestic market when there is idle cash in some other ministry’s account.
The PFM plan also incorporates the Integrated Financial Information Management Systems which connects all ministries, government departments, parastatals and counties. Among the major tasks of the new minister is to see that the system is rolled out to all ministries and State departments.