Budget should care for interests of all

Wednesday June 8 2016

By EDITORIAL
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Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich presents the Budget for the new financial year on Wednesday against a backdrop of a sluggish economy.

The government proposes to spend Sh2.2 trillion, up from the Sh2 trillion in the current financial year.

On the eve of the budget, MPs used their might to force the minister to raise the allocation for Parliament, from Sh24 billion to Sh27.4 billion, just falling short of getting the Sh29 billion they had asked for.

It is striking how MPs force things and get their way when others cannot. The Finance Ministry had reduced their allocation to Sh24 billion because of the tough economic times. Every government department and agency is getting less capitation. However, because MPs pass the Budget and have levers to pull, they are able to blackmail the Finance minister. This is unfair to the rest of the tax payers.

The austerity measures being espoused by the government should cut across the board. Every person or group that depends on State capitation should be treated equally. It is not right for a few privileged groups such as MPs to benefit unduly from State coffers while the rest suffer. Budget Committee Chairman Mutava Musyimi has acknowledged that the government will be forced to look elsewhere and cut others’ budgets to satisfy the MPs.

Clearly, that is unreasonable. Many deserving sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, and agriculture end up being starved just because MPs can force the Treasury to do their bidding.

Budget-making is a public affair where citizens are supposed to give their input and expect that their views will be respected. Financial allocations are based on estimates and priority areas.

High expenditure should go to areas that yield high benefits to a large group, not purely consumption by a small circle.

As he presents the Budget, Mr Rotich must guard against serving the interests of a few at the expense of the majority.