Sh 3.3 Trillion Budget leaves much to be desired
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani presented the sh3.3 Trillion budget for the fiscal year 2022/23 in parliament this Thursday.
The budget showed a boost in spending on welfare programs like cash transfers to vulnerable groups and Universal Health Care (UHC).
According to the CS policies in this budget had been outlined and geared towards having the economy more sustainable to enable a growth path for improved livelihoods through a sustainable economy and reducing social inequality.
As earlier the state had proposed Sh62.3 billion for the realization of the UHC that has already been piloted in four of the 47 counties and Sh2.1 billion to employ hundreds of thousands of youths for another phase of the Kazi Mtaani Programme.
An unanswered question still is just how effective has the Kazi Mtaani Programme been in enabling the youth and what’s the reason for the slowed rollout of UHC in the rest of the counties.
Mr. Yatani added that better health outcomes depend on the availability, accessibility, and capacity of health workers to deliver quality services. An issue that’s anchored on being a well-equipped and provisioned healthcare facilities.
This saw Sh62.3 billion allocated for health programs including Sh7 billion for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and related spending, Sh4.1 billion for free maternity, Sh5.2 billion for the managed equipment services (MES), and Sh1.8 billion for healthcare package for the elderly.
Acknowledging the vulnerable groups, the state has allocated sh39.5 billion to social protection programs aimed at cushioning the vulnerable members of society from poor living conditions.
Having sh17.5 billion assigned to elderly persons, sh7.9 billion to orphans and vulnerable children, sh1.2 billion to persons living with disabilities, and sh5.1 billion for the hunger safety net Programme.
It also proposes going big in education spending, with the budget’s single largest allocation of Sh544.4 billion to support key programs in the sector.
This includes Sh12 billion to cater for free primary education, Sh64.4 billion for free day secondary education, and a Sh5 billion examinations waiver for Grade Six, Class Eight, and Form Four candidates.
The allocation also caters for a Sh 294.7 billion boost to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Sh91.2 billion for university education, and Sh15.8 billion to the Higher Education Loans Board (Held).
In an attempt to balance the economic equation state went for luxury items to raise additional revenue to a total of sh50.4 billion to finance its budget.
Whereby the government is set to reap big from radio, television stations, newspapers, and other advertisers of gaming, gambling, and alcoholic drinks to raise new revenue from the growing industry.
Charging a 15% excise duty on all fees charged by advertisers which in turn will see raised rates leading to higher costs of alcohol and gambling.
The CS said, “gambling, gaming, and alcohol addiction have become prevalent in our society. These habits are extremely addictive and can result in a variety of harmful repercussions, especially for the youth. Advertisements for alcoholic beverages, betting, and gaming contribute greatly to the promotion of these habits”
The CS has also slapped a 10 per cent extra excise duty on excisable products except for fuel. Treasury expects to increase excise duty collection for the financial year 2022/23 to Sh297 billion from Sh260 billion, driven by increased consumption and the new tax measures.
To prop the economy, the state proposed to roll out a third economic stimulus package of Sh30.1 billion to stimulate economic growth and enhance the employment of thousands of people in various job markets.
Challenges on the ground.
However, despite targeting to balance the economy and address several issues in the society, the taxpayers tend to feel like the budget has deeply not dealt with issues affecting their daily livelihoods.
The earlier rolled Kazi Mtaani program had the aim of assisting the unemployed youths in the country though still, unemployment is on a steady rise in spite of the billions poured into the venture.
While for the vulnerable and disabled in several counties nationwide, there have been numerous claims by victims of failing to get the money as stipulated over the years.
Most of the complaints go unanswered and unconsidered which begs the question of just how improvement is expected when wrongs aren’t made right.
The issue of education being of grave concern as it is for the betterment of future generations has a lot of funding with little or no improvement in the shift from 8.4.4 to the CBC program. Teachers of the system were urging for better training to be fit for the program in order for students’ better comprehension.