TALKABOUT SWEET DEALS PACKAGE IN A DEVOLVED BUDGET: A RIGHT STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. By Mungai.

It’s a devolutionary and revolutionary budget which most Kenyans have been yearning for over the years. This is what Mukurwe-ini, Member of Parliament and an assistant minister, Kabando wa Kabando, concluded of the budget. This is one voice in a million which congratulated the Finance minister, Uhuru Kenyatta over the manner in which he represented his well, thought budget speech.

Talk about sweet deals which devolved billions of shillings to fuel development at grassroots level. The budget allocated close to 200shs. Millions per constituency which will be channeled towards building schools, markets, health centre and roads.

According to daily Nations Financial analyst, Jaindi Kisero, he wrote that this year’s budget is a bold experiment. If you examine the spending plan carefully, one of the most important objectives was to deliberately keep the spending levels on the development side of the budget high. Clearly, Uhurus budget is an experiment worth trying. The minister’s fascinating with the concept of fiscal devolution – throwing more money at the CDF – was especially clever.

He further wrote that, conversely, if you spend the money in Kazi Kwa Vijana, providing seasonal credit to rural farmers, building wholesale markets for rural farmers, maintaining and building roads, ports, airports and installing fibre optic cables, you will get economic growth.

This year’s budget was the most awaited one because it came against a major back drop of world’s fallen economic recession, global harsh economic times and a stagnant economic growth rate which has forced the various basic commodities prices to skyrocket beyond the reach of most Kenyans.

The finance minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, was caught between a hard rock and a hard place, and he had to apply the best formula to juggle his arithmetic well. He had to source the funds to finance the various government operations and developments, whereas at the same time he had to spare the already overburdened Kenyan and a society with myriad of problems from any further taxation measures. Also, he had to contend with the fact that his budget had a deficit totaling to shs 109 billion, which he had to fill, coupled by a fallen economic growth rate.

So, when the time came for the finance minister to present this year’s budget speech, on June 11, and in a move that confounded many, he spared Kenyans from any further taxation, sliced the government spending, borrowed from the domestic markets and then he devolved the funds in constituencies as Conditional Economic Stimulus or Resilience Package.

While the budget presented by Mr. Kenyatta was loudly praised as a well thought – out fiscal planning, it is bound to put the Minister’s ability as a national leader in the spotlight. More so because the budget was presented at a time when the country is facing numerous economic challenges, which had made Kenyans, expect austerity measures and a steep rise in the price of goods as a result of increased taxation. However, this was not to be, and the minister made sit clear from the onset he would not increase taxes.

The devolved money-ed budget emulated the system of Constituency Development Fund, which was initiated by the N.A.R.C government in the year 2003, with an initial fund of shs 6 million per constituency. The noble idea of C.D.F government had ignored for years. Today, the CDF has emerged as the fastest growing source of funding for rural projects, filling gaps in development at the constituency level. So this devolved money is meant to be used to finance infrastructure development, boost education, health care and revive other projects at the grass root level.

Under the Conditional Economic Stimulus, or, Resilience Package, every constituency will get Shs. 10 Million to build a market for fresh produce, Shs 8 Million to build 200 fish farming ponds, Shs 30 million to construct a secondary school as a centre of excellence. To improve delivery of health services an allocation of shs 3.1 million was set aside to hire 20 nurses.

With these devolved funds thousand of jobs opportunities at the constituency level will be created.

According to most pundits, this is what Kenyans have been yearning for, the devolution of resources since independence; and this is what the Minister did. Giving ministries money without instructions on how to spend it has hampered development in the past. It is now in black and white. Projects with money allocation have been clearly identified. And, that’s why the budgets allocated an unprecedented amount of money to constituencies to fuel development and stimulate the economy.

But, can the current set up of C.D.F be able to manage these devolved funds temporarily?

According to Sunday Nation’s political columnist, Gitau Warigi, he wrote that the huge increase in the C.D.F means that the way the individual funds are managed must be fundamentally overhauled. We are no longer dealing with a few hundred million shillings here. We are dealing with billions that will be directly channeled to constituencies including money from the road levy. And, politics is such that it will be impossible to shove aside M.P’s from overseeing these funds.

But, it is imperative that they engage experts and professionals to run C.D.F in their constituencies, not cronies and relatives. Otherwise this huge devolution bonus will not achieve its intended goal, he concluded his analysis.

The process must be carefully structured and the CDF act amended so that M.P’s will only be patrons of the Fund. They must also ensure that the intended projects are smoothly implemented otherwise they might find they have been handed a rope to hang themselves.


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