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Economy

Intelligence agency gets Sh5bn more in 2017 budget

National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations committee vice chairperson Bare Shill. PHOTO | FILE
National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations committee vice chairperson Bare Shill. PHOTO | FILE 

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) will get an extra Sh5 billion in next year’s budget to expand its operations as the country heads to the General Election.

The amount is part of the Sh8.5 billion that Treasury had chopped from the Sh35.1 billion budget that the spy agency had asked for to finance priority operation areas, including counter-terrorism, intelligence and to secure the Kenyan border with Somalia.

The NIS had submitted a budget of Sh35.1 billion for the 2017/18 financial year but was allocated Sh26.6 billion going by the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) ceilings, resulting in the Sh8.5 billion shortfall.

Bare Shill, the National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Relations committee vice chairperson, told the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) that the money is needed to strengthen multi-agency collaboration and co-ordination as well as modernisation of operational equipment, systems and tools such as surveillance systems.

The Defence committee appeared before the BAC chaired by Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi to pitch for additional funding to NIS in the 2017/18 budget.

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The Defence committee said it wanted the agency to be added Sh5 billion to cover priority areas that were to benefit from the Sh8.5 billion cut from its budget.

“The committee recommends an additional Sh5 billion to cover the deficit of Sh8.5 billion in key priority areas of security intelligence and counter intelligence, modernization and expansion of surveillance system,” Mr Shill said in an annex contained in the BAC’s report on the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) and the Debt Management Strategy for 2017/2018 that MPs approved at a special session last Tuesday. 

In seeking for more funding for the NIS, the committee said the dynamism of the threat environment requires innovation that necessitates use of modern technology.

“This calls for enhancement of financial, human and material resources,” Mr Shill said in the BAC report.

The spy agency, through Mr Shill, said the underfunding risked curtailing programmes and activities earmarked for implementation in the next budget cycle, including the expansion of intelligence collection capabilities and counter terrorism operations.

“This will affect priority areas such as security intelligence and counter intelligence, modernization and expansion of surveillance system.

“Considering that 2017 is an election year when pillars of national security are often threatened, the national intelligence budget needs to be enhanced,” Mr Shill said.

The NIS budget is usually removed from public scrutiny with only the National Assembly, through the 29-member Defence and Foreign Relations committee having access to its spending.

The committee also oversights the budgets of the ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and East African Community Integration.

In the current financial year 2016/17, the Treasury invested heavily in the security sector, with special focus on improving servicemen’s welfare, mobilisation and modernisation of the security forces.

The Treasury in June set aside Sh124 billion for defence and the National Intelligence Service and an additional Sh140 billion for internal security.

The money is currently being spent on military and police modernisation, lease financing of police motor vehicles, enhanced security operations, police and prison officers’ medical insurance scheme.

The enhanced Defence and Intelligence budgets are meant to help the country counter increased threat of terrorism from Somalia-based Al Shabaab militants.

Kenya deployed its troops in Somalia in December 2011 to pursue terrorists who had staged a series of attacks on tourists and foreign aid workers along its border with Somalia.

The troops are serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in the fight against the Al-Shabaab militants.

Kenyan authorities recently enhanced security patrols and surveillance along the border with Somalia to prevent incursions by Al-Shabaab militants targeting communication infrastructure.

The militants bombed two Safaricom masts in Mandera County early this month aiming to sabotage communication infrastructure and frustrate security operations in the region.

The country has stationed permanent ground security operations in hotspots along the border after intelligence showed that the militants planned to cripple communication infrastructure in the towns.

The Al-Shabaab militants have been targeting military and police vehicles either by laying ambushes or planting bombs in the northeast region, especially in Mandera and Garissa counties.

The increased intelligence surveillance along the Somali-Kenya border has helped the defence forces fight the terrorists and reduced the attacks.

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