Kenyan budget 2008-09

I just skimmed through Finance Minister Kenyatta’s budget speech and I must say that I am impressed. He is cutting taxes on a few essential commodities and promises to implement business and tax laws that will make Kenya more business-friendly. And his development proposals, if followed through, will help the average Kenyan a great deal.

The best part of the budget, to me, was the allocation of Shs. 30 million (per constituency) to create high performance high schools. Being a product of a national school I think that it is time all of Kenya’s constituencies had places like Mang’u and Alliance Girls. I am hoping that someone at the education ministry will also think of expanding the Kenyan public university system to accommodate the increasing number of high school graduates.

I was disappointed though by Mr. Kenyatta’s decision to reduce the import duty on imported second hand clothes. The import duty on mitumba should not have been reduced. We need to encourage the growth of a domestic textiles industry. The job gains if such an industry were to be allowed to flourish would far outweigh the job losses in Nairobi and other urban areas. Remember Mr. Kenyatta, the three pillars are textiles, agriculture and construction!

Kenyan budget

Kenya’s Minister of Finance, Uhuru Kenyatta, is due to read the budget for the next fiscal year in parliament on Thursday afternoon. Mr. Kenyatta is expected to unveil a KShs.867 billion (US $11.1b) budget. The biggest chunk of the money –  a staggering Shs.607b –  will go to recurrent expenditures with only 258b going to development expenditure. The latter is a marked improvement from last year when only 141b went to development projects.

More details to follow tomorrow…..

transparent budget making

The Nation’s Editorial has a piece against the idea of MPs managing the budget. I am a bit ambivalent on this one. On the one hand I am apprehensive about the idea of men like Maina Kamanda and Jakoyo Midiwo and Chirau Makwere deciding on what the government should be doing with tax payers’ money. These men (and quite frankly almost the entire lot in parliament) have proven to be myopic populists who will stop at nothing to gain short term political capital. If this plan goes through, we can expect pork-laden budgets and beyond-means-spending.

That said, I don’t think the idea itself is bad. What could be better than to take the power to allocate national resources from conceited bureaucrats at treasury? For far too long we have allowed the Finance Minister and State House to use the allocation of national resources as a political tool for patronage and for narrow tribal interests. Spreading this role to the entire legistlature may bring us a more equitable distribution of national resources for the good of all Kenyans.

That’s my two cents on this.