Roads spend surpasses budget by Sh6.2 billion


Transport CS James Macharia inspecting works on Kenol-Sagana-Marua road. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The State Department of Infrastructure exceeded its development budget by Sh6.2 billion, a month to the end of the financial year amid a race to complete President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy projects.

The latest exchequer statistics, published by Treasury secretary Ukur Yatani, show expenditure on the construction of roads and bridges amounted to nearly Sh69.25 billion in 11 months ended May against a revised budget of Sh63.04 billion for the entire fiscal year.

This translates to 9.84 percent over-expenditure, which is close to the 10 percent legal limit under section 36(9) of the Public Finance Management (National Government) Regulations, 2015.

That regulation bars lawmakers from approving a supplementary budget that exceeds 10 percent of “the approved budget estimates of a programme or sub-vote unless it is for unforeseen and unavoidable need”.

This sets the stage for the department, through the Treasury secretary, to seek approval for the supplementary funds from the National Assembly — which adjourned indefinitely on June 9 ahead of the August 9 polls.

The Business Daily could not get an official explanation from the Infrastructure ministry with calls and texts to PS Paul Maringa and Cabinet secretary James Macharia not answered.

The expenditure — made up of cash directly from the exchequer only— is the second-highest in the review period under Mr Kenyatta’s administration, dwarfed by Sh84.25 billion in the pandemic year of 2020.

Road infrastructure has been one of the priority projects under President Kenyatta’s administration, although it has come with the burden of debt load on taxpayers largely through loans contracted from China.

The latest progress report from the Infrastructure department shows that 3,214km of road were constructed in two financial years through June 2021, surpassing a goal of 2,707 km.

Pending bills for the State Department of Infrastructure — which is primarily in charge of roads and bridges — hit Sh121.56 billion last March, nearly three times Sh40.93 billion levels in June 2020.

The National Assembly’s Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing, in a report on expenditure estimates for the year starting July, recommended that the Treasury floats a roads bond to pay off arrears to road contractors and suppliers, arguing annual budgetary allocation will not be sufficient.

Mr Kenyatta says his administration has built more than 11,000 kilometres of tarmac roads since taking power in April 2013, claiming the additional network is nearly six times that built by his three predecessors since independence.

“The naysayers said that we should not invest so heavily in infrastructure because people don’t eat roads and floating bridges,” the president said on June 1. “I refused their pessimism because I know what a new road means to the farmer who has for decades been unable to get their produce quickly to the market.”

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