What you need to know:
- Setting up a budget that works effectively is a matter of good planning.
Setting up a working budget is not easy. A budget is a constantly measured adjustment, which takes into account available resources, values, aims and other factors.
And debt is a matter of budgeting. A city, county or country in unreasonable amounts of debt has probably not considered their budget in a logical way.
Setting up a budget that works effectively is a matter of good planning. The first US president, George Washington, said that “We must consult our means rather than our wishes” when allocating state funds. In other words, we must be realistic.
And former US president Barack Obama said that “A budget is more than just a series of numbers on a page; it is an embodiment of our values.”
Deciding how and where the money collected in state coffers should be reinvested into the economy and purposefully used is really a matter of showing our values.
When Kenya’s annual budget is set each year and money is allocated to different state projects, it reflects what areas we think are the most important. Is it education, health care, law enforcement or security? Innovation and technology or business?
All of these things come into play. This year, the government needed to do an emergency reallocation of funds to deal with the unexpected global health pandemic and counties were each allocated more money to deal with Covid-19 mitigation as they saw fit.
However, some counties used this new injection of cash irresponsibly.
In Nandi County, the public health department is currently being investigated for how it spent the Sh180 million budget it was given to fight Covid-19. A few months into the pandemic and we are now able to calmly take a look at the big picture and reassess priorities.
Recently, claims that the Nandi County health officials have inflated costs of some equipment purchased to fight coronavirus has embroiled the health department.
Ever since the first case reached Kenya on March 13, counties were given money and charged with setting up isolation centres and procuring medical equipment, including not only ventilators and more expensive equipment but also PPE such as masks and gloves.
But when the County Executive Committee Member for Health was summoned to explain how 143 infrared thermometers cost Sh2.5 million at a rate of Sh18,000 each when the market price is Sh4,500, she was unable to offer an explanation.
Nor could she explain why 120 blood pressures testing kits were bought at Sh7,000 per piece - double the normal cost! Various other repair and equipment costs related to Covid-19 mitigation in the past three months remain elusive.
The Committee Member must now explain to the Nandi County Assembly why certain suppliers were picked and how prices were arrived at.
While the fact that this is not already transparent is a bad sign about budgeting and responsibility, the fact that it is being investigated is a good sign for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anti-corruption campaign.
Any individual using the Covid-19 pandemic to make money is committing an economic crime.
We are sick of corruption in Kenya. Historically, these inexplicable expenditures would probably have been swept under the rug as the elite abet corrupt deals.
But things have changed since the government does not tolerate graft.
Kenya has started to take responsibility for its budget. The country is trying to reduce debt and is now concentrating on combating the spread of Covid-19.
Those who take advantage of the system will be held into account