National Cohesion

Why Political Controversy Must Not Obscure The Noble Provisions in The 2023/24 Budget

A Hartlaub’s Tura­co is a daz­zling green bird with dark blue wings, a black tail and a match­ing black crown. Although these birds can be found in plen­ty in Mau For­est, I didn’t see any dur­ing the numer­ous times I flew over the for­est to assess the extent of for­est degra­da­tion. That’s because a bird’s eye view of the for­est from above, doesn’t unveil for­est details like a Tura­co perched on a tree branch.

The Bud­get State­ment that was pre­sent­ed by Trea­sury CS Nju­gu­na Ndung’u pro­vid­ed us all with a bird’s eye view of a bold bud­get in the face of many tough choic­es. Pre­dictably, the government’s rev­enue rais­ing plans, have gen­er­at­ed a heat­ed nation­al debate. How­ev­er, there are many out­stand­ing allo­ca­tions in the bud­get that must not be lost in the ever-heat­ed polit­i­cal ‘for­est’ of Kenya.

Here is a bird’s eye panoram­ic view of these sectors:

Trans­form­ing the Micro, Small and Medi­um Enter­prise (MSME) econ­o­my KES 10.6 bil­lion; Hous­ing and set­tle­ment KES 35.3 bil­lion; Agri­cul­ture trans­for­ma­tion and inclu­sive growth KES 49.9 bil­lion; Afford­able health­care to all KES 141.2 bil­lion and Dig­i­tal super­high­way and cre­ative econ­o­my KES 15.1 bil­lion; KES 332.8 bil­lion; Man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor KES 26.9 bil­lion; Infra­struc­ture devel­op­ment KES 244.9 bil­lion; Ener­gy KES 62.3 billion.

Just like the perched daz­zling Hartlaub’s Tura­co can only be seen once you descend from the skies into the heart of the Mau For­est, the crit­i­cal and impact­ful real-life inter­ven­tions engen­dered by these bud­getary allo­ca­tions will only be realised through sus­tained account­abil­i­ty. For instance, the CS pro­posed an exten­sion of VAT exemp­tion on machin­ery and equip­ment pur­chased local­ly for use in the man­u­fac­ture of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. This will deliv­er a dou­ble win in boost­ing both local man­u­fac­tur­ing and afford­able health­care. This twin win and its poten­tial impact on mil­lions isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly evi­dent through a quick scan of the figures.

Anoth­er win for local pro­duc­tion is the intro­duc­tion of excise duty on import­ed fish. This will pro­tect the local fish­ery sec­tor that is a major liveli­hood source for many Kenyans. It is how­ev­er incum­bent on the sec­tor to ensure sus­tained afford­able fish­ery supply.

Inter­est­ing­ly, bud­gets can also engen­der behav­ioral change that pos­i­tive­ly impact soci­ety. Almost every Kenyan knows some­one whose life has been turned upside down because of sports bet­ting and oth­er forms of gam­bling. The bud­get seeks to tack­le this crip­pling addic­tion by increas­ing excise duty rate on Bet­ting, Gam­ing, Lot­tery and Prize Com­pe­ti­tion from the cur­rent 7.5% to 12.5%. I applaud this mea­sure as it will play an impor­tant role in pro­tect­ing our young peo­ple from slip­ping into the addic­tive behavior.

The bud­get also pro­vid­ed good news for Coun­ties. The equi­table share has increased from the KES 370 bil­lion in the finan­cial year 2022/23 to KES 385.4. If used account­ably, the KES15 bil­lion incre­ment should make a real dif­fer­ence in the lives of ordi­nary Kenyans at the Coun­ty level.

From a green stand­point, I cel­e­brate the zero rat­ing of LPG prod­ucts. This is a move that organ­i­sa­tions such as the Green Africa Foun­da­tion, which I chair, have been call­ing for, as a means of unlock­ing afford­able clean ener­gy for the mil­lions of Kenyans who still depend on fire­wood and char­coal for cook­ing. Indeed, a whop­ping 84% of rur­al Kenyans use fire­wood for cooking.

On June 15th morn­ing, a few hours before the bud­get was read, I was plant­i­ng trees togeth­er with Australia’s High Com­mis­sion­er to Kenya, Mr. Luke Williams. My reflec­tions are that nation­al bud­gets are, in a sense, akin to tree plant­i­ng. The bud­get has plant­ed the right seedlings in the right places. How­ev­er, there are hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple in those places who must now nur­ture those seedlings to matu­ri­ty. These pub­lic offi­cials, togeth­er with the pri­vate sec­tor and civ­il soci­ety, must play their role to help us realise the real fruits of the budget’s good inten­tions in an account­able and com­pe­tent man­ner. Think green act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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