Security and youth emerge big winners in Budget

Thursday June 9 2016

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich at Treasury Building before heading to Parliament for the reading of the National Budget 2016/17 on June 8, 2016.  PHOTO |  FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich at Treasury Building before heading to Parliament for the reading of the National Budget 2016/17 on June 8, 2016. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BRIAN NGUGI
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Security, youth and women, as well as farmers are among the big winners of the 2016/17 national budget whose fiscal plan National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich outlined in Parliament on Wednesday.

Infrastructural projects, including roads and ports, are the other big winners in the Budget for the financial year 2016/2017, as the President Uhuru Kenyatta administration races to fulfil its election pledges 15 months to the General Election.

Mr Rotich’s Budget showed the State is concentrating on education and health sectors, but also investments in energy and infrastructure amid a tight purse.

To enhance security, which has been a burning challenge in the country in the past few years, the National Treasury has allocated Sh124.04 billion to the Defence Ministry and the National Intelligence Service (NIS), while a further Sh140.6 billion to the State Department of Interior and Coordination of National Government.

Mr Rotich said the significant increase in allocations would go towards military and police modernisation, lease financing of police motor vehicles, enhanced security operations as well as to police and prison officers medical insurance scheme.

The security sector allocation will also be channelled to the construction and equipping of the national forensic laboratory; construction of police stations and housing and enhanced security along the borders.

Amid runaway unemployment, the youth have also emerged as big winners, with the allocation of Sh21.1 billion towards gender and youth empowerment programmes, under the National Youth Service initiative.

A separate youth empowerment programme funded by the World Bank with a view increasing access to youth-targeted employment programmes and improving their employability is also on sights of the government.

This is enhanced by the development of regulations and planned gazettement of tax measures for a tax rebate scheme for employers who employ and train at least 10 fresh graduates for a period of six to 12 months.

FREE MATERNAL HEALTHCARE

“This is to make our young graduates employable by preparing them for the job market and contributing to nation building,” said the CS.

The health sector is the other big winner as the Treasury has allocated Sh4.3 billion for free maternal healthcare and Sh4.5 billion for lease of medical equipment.

The education sector also wins big. For starters, the government is keen on fully implementing the school laptop programme, a total of Sh13.4 billion for the Digital Literacy Programme.

Still in the sector, Sh4.5 billion goes to recruitment and promotion of teachers, with Sh2.8 billion for the second phase of the teachers house allowance.

Meanwhile, Sh32.4 billion has been allocated for free day secondary education while Sh14.7 billion for free primary education.

Farmers will also be smiling all the way to the bank as a raft of proposed measures are set to improve their fortunes.

The government has allocated Sh20.8 billion for on-going irrigation projects countrywide.

These include the Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Project interventions to transform agriculture from subsistence to productive commercial farming, the Mwea Irrigation Project and the National Expanded Irrigation Programme.

The state has also set aside Sh4.9 billion to subsidise fertiliser and seeds besides an Sh8.4 billion plan for the modernisation of the Kenya Meat Commission, the revival of the pyrethrum sector, a livestock and crop insurance scheme as well as the mechanisation of agriculture.

Meru region miraa farmers are also set to benefit from a Sh1 billion crop diversification programme, with coffee farmers gaining from a Sh2.4 billion programme for coffee debt waiver and Stabex.