Yatani's delicate balancing act

Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani carries the demeanour of a man who has more bad news than he is willing to deliver. ILLUSTRATION | J NYAGAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The soft-spoken 53-year-old CS will read his first budget against the backdrop of an economy battered by the novel coronavirus and floods, and a food-security threat from unrelenting locusts.
  • He will also be reading one of the most unrealistic budgets, described by Parliament and other experts as too far from the realities on the ground.
  • For the first time in many years, the government has admitted in its budget numbers that it will have to borrow to pay salaries.

Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani carries the demeanour of a man who has more bad news than he is willing to deliver. But he remains calm even under pressure. The economist prefers to ask and answer his own questions in interviews.

His one year as Treasury boss has coincided with the government’s realisation that the country was living way beyond its means. He hit the ground running, implementing a raft of austerity measures to stop massive wastage.

Several local and international institutions have raised alarm over growing debt distress, even as Treasury puts on a brave face.

As he walks into Parliament this afternoon to read his Sh2.7 trillion budget, Mr Yatani will be carrying on his shoulders the weight of a Sh904 billion debt bill, the Jubilee government’s Big Four agenda, and the hopes of millions of Kenyans who are hurting from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The soft-spoken 53-year-old CS will read his first budget against the backdrop of an economy battered by the novel coronavirus and floods, and a food-security threat from unrelenting locusts.

He will also be reading one of the most unrealistic budgets, described by Parliament and other experts as too far from the realities on the ground.