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Education sector set for biggest rise in budget funds

 Henry Rotich
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The education sector, which forms the foundation for equitable social-economic development, is set to get the highest rise in cash allocation in the next financial year 2019/20 if Parliament — the budget-making organ — approves the plan by the Treasury after public participation.

The sector’s budget is set to be raised by Sh31.38 billion to nearly Sh442.33 billion compared with the current year ending in June, the draft 2019 Budget Policy Statement (BPS) shows, consolidating its position as the largest spender of taxpayer funds.

Education sector deals with all facets of learning from early childhood to university training, including remuneration through the Teachers Service Commission.

“In our continuing efforts to develop an education sector that empowers Kenyans to be engaged citizens and competitive entrepreneurs, my administration is increasing investment in free and compulsory primary and secondary education,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said on December 12 during Jamhuri Day celebration.

Entities under public administration and international relations will get the second-largest budgetary increment at Sh22.77 billion, raising the sector’s proposed expenditure to Sh272.12 billion.

The broad sector covers the Presidency, Foreign Affairs ministry, National Treasury as well as powerful independent commissions such as the Office of the Auditor-General, Controller of Budget and Public Service Commission, among others.

“The sector provides overall policy direction and leadership to the country, oversee the human resource function in the public service, coordinate national policy formulation and implementation, resource mobilisation, allocation and management (and) strengthening the devolved system of government,” says the Treasury in the draft 2019 BPS.

The report adds that funds to the sector will also be spent on “coordinating implementation of youth policy and mainstreaming in national development, implementing the Kenya foreign policy as well as oversight, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the use of public resources and service delivery”.

The budget for governance, justice, law and order has been increased by Sh10.68 billion in the proposed expenditure to Sh200.83 billion, partly signalling the importance the Jubilee administration has placed on the fight against graft.

Allocations to key State arms in the fight against corruption — estimated to wipe out about a third of Kenya’s annual budget — fall under this sector.

They include the Judiciary, the National Assembly, the State department of Interior, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and State Law Office.

The Judiciary bitterly protested last July after the National Assembly slashed its budget from Sh31.2 billion to Sh17.3 billion, arguing the move would hurt the pace of determination of mushrooming cases, including those on corruption.

bail terms

Mr Kenyatta has pledged to properly resource agencies involved in the fight against corruption but expressed dissatisfaction in the way the courts, which are constitutionally independent, are handling suspects.

“Kenyans’ spirits are dampened when we witness suspects released on ridiculously low bail terms, interference in legislative processes, and the use of the court process to delay justice,” he said on December 12.

“All arms of government must work together to ensure our nation gets rid of this menace.”

The budget for energy, infrastructure and ICT has, however, been slashed by Sh7.53 billion in the proposed expenditure plan, but at Sh411.27 billion, it remains the second largest only to education.

Funds to the sector — largely towards the building of roads, modern railway and power plants — have largely been sourced through loans, piling up debt burden on taxpayers, which stood at nearly Sh5.15 trillion last September from Sh4.48 trillion a year earlier.

Infrastructure development, although still a priority in Jubilee administration’s expenditure plans as an enabler to growth, is likely to get reduced allocations going forward compared with recent years.

The Treasury has made it clear State resources will be concentrated on supporting growth in job-intensive manufacturing, agribusiness, affordable housing and healthcare sectors, which form Mr Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.

“You have to justify the Big Four aspect in every shilling you ask for,” Treasury secretary Henry Rotich told officials when he launched the budget-making process for the fiscal year 2019-20 on September 13 in Nairobi.

The proposed budget for health has been capped at Sh93.05 billion, a growth of Sh3.04 billion over the current financial year, while that to agriculture, urban and rural development sector has been increased Sh1.93 billion to Sh54.64 billion.

Allocation to national security, which covers the Defence ministry and the National Intelligence Service, is set to rise Sh3.83 billion to nearly Sh146.1 billion in the proposed estimates.

The ceilings for the State ministries, departments and agencies as well as independent commissions are part of the Sh2.7 trillion proposed budget for 2019/20 fiscal year, a 7.6 per cent rise over the current year.

Mr Rotich’s spending plans seek to pump Sh1.66 trillion into recurrent expenditure between July 2019 and June 2020, while development projects get Sh670.8 billion.

Counties’ expenditure is projected at Sh371.6 billion, with an additional Sh5 billion going toward the contingency fund.