Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and senior technocrats meet starting Monday amid anxiety in government circles over an impending cabinet reshuffle following the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta last week.
Even though the week long meeting will mainly focus on reviewing the 2018-2019 budget proposals in order to free resources to four key sectors identified as President Kenyatta’s second term priorities, it is likely to shape the face of the next cabinet.
The meeting comes in the same week the National Assembly is expected to pick members of the Committee on Appointments in a bid to fast-track the process of vetting the new Cabinet Secretaries (CS) even though there are no indications on when the President will unveil the names.
Leader of majority in the National Assembly Adan Duale told Nation that the committee will be picked on Tuesday to start the process of vetting the new CSs.
“With the swearing-in of the President, the National Assembly is ready to vet members of the executive. The Committee on Appointments, which vets CSs may be approved by the House on Tuesday ready for the exercise,” Mr Duale said.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) commissioners will also convene to start shortlisting applicants for the positions of Principal Secretaries (PSs) and agreeing on an interview schedule for the nearly 2000 candidates.
“The commission meets next week to start shortlisting and decide on interview schedule. Until then no timelines can be announced,” PSC chairperson Prof Margaret Kobia told Sunday Nation yesterday, noting that the applicants are drawn from both the public and private sector, including former MPs.
A memo issued by Treasury CS Henry Rotich to all CSs dated November 29 identifies the key priority areas President Kenyatta intends to focus on over the next five years as universal healthcare, manufacturing, affordable housing, food and nutrition security.
“Adequate funding must be found and resources aligned accordingly,” the memo states adding “All sector budget proposals, both recurrent and development will therefore be reviewed afresh to create fiscal space for these priority areas. Each sector is therefore required to recast its resource allocation criteria and justification for the resources required.”
The meeting, which runs from Monday to Friday will see all ministries review and overhaul their budget lines to focus on the four key areas that are considered important, particularly in the first 100 days of the president’s term.
Even though Mr Rotich does not directly address the PSs in the memo, he suggests that the CSs may be accompanied by their respective accounting officers, to “defend their budgets.”
“All CSs and accounting officers of Commissions and Independent Offices are expected to participate and defend their budget proposals during the process. You may be accompanied by your accounting officer, Head of Finance and one technical officer for the meeting,” Mr Rotich advises.
The exercise will likely result in the budgets of non-priority sectors being reduced and the extra monies allocated to the ministries in charge of the four key sectors.
President Kenyatta’s key priorities in his final term in office suggest that the ministries in charge of these dockets will enjoy a much bigger clout and resources at the expense of the remaining ministries. It means the next CSs and PSs in charge of the ministries of Health, Industrialisation, Infrastructure and Agriculture will likely enjoy bigger budgets and clouts than their colleagues.
The budget preparation process for the 2018/2019 financial year was almost complete but Rotich’s memo to call CSs, sector leaders and accounting officers now highlights the direction President Kenyatta’s second term will focus on.
The review meetings between the CSs, Treasury mandarins and technocrats will take place at the Treasury boardroom.
‘The purpose is to ensure adequate funding is provided for government projects but also that resources are aligned towards four emerging government priority areas,” he said.
A programme released by Treasury indicates that first to have their budgets reviewed tomorrow will be the ministries of Education, Environment and Water resources.
On Tuesday, it will be the turn of the ministries and state departments under the governance, Justice, law and order. These include the Ministry of Interior, Attorney General’s office, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the National Police Service, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Judiciary.
The ministries of Health, Energy, Infrastructure and ICT will present the budget proposals on Wednesday, followed by the ministries and state departments in charge of public administration and international relations as well as national security on Thursday.
The ministries in charge of Agriculture, and Social Protection, Culture and Recreation will appear before Mr Rotich’s team on Friday.
Last week, a government media release said China and Israel were viewed as critical partners in delivering President Kenyatta’s agenda in his second term.
“The Jubilee manifesto set out a 10-point pledges on social development and the Jubilee government will enhance bilateral relations with China and Israel to deliver against the manifesto,” read the statement released late Friday after a meeting of a key delivery advisory council chaired by President Kenyatta.
Following a day long meeting with the Economic Team last weekend chaired by President Kenyatta and attended by Deputy President William Ruto, Attorney General Githu Muigai, Deputy Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita, among others, the government released a statement detailing the four priority areas.
The meeting was the last in a series with key advisory teams under the coordination of the Economic Team bringing together CSs, PSs and private sector partners with discussions reported to have centred on accelerated economic growth , revamping investments in social development, national healing and unity.
“The Economic Team has crafted a dedicated blue print for economic growth and quick social benefits. Accelerated economic growth and social transformation rank top on the President’s second term agenda,” the briefing says.
Key members of the Economic Team are Mr Rotich, Energy CS Charles Keter, Education and acting Internal Security CS Fred Matiang’i, former World Bank Social Development mandarin, Ms Ruth Kagia, Africa Development Bank’s George Negatu among others.
Key highlights in the Economic Team’s briefing include consolidation of various state enterprise support funds, among them Youth and Women Enterprise Funds, the Micro and Small enterprise Authority.
The funds manned by political appointees have been rocked by a series of scandals and consolidating them into a bank may salvage the agenda for which they were set up to support emerging enterprises gain traction in the market place.
Analysts view the emerging focus on manufacturing and job creation as a sign that Industrialisation CS Adan Mohamed’s job is on the chopping board as his ministry seems to have condoned the import of finished goods.
Jubilee government’s first term presided over volumes of importation of finished leather products rising from Sh9 billion in 2012 to over Sh30 billion in 2016, while export of raw skins, hides and live animals continued unabated, despite official policy being to promote local manufacturing and reduce export of raw materials.