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Austerity talk must be matched with action

EDITORIAL: Austerity talk must be matched with action

The National Treasury must match its talk of austerity measures with action. FILE PHOTO | NMG

At long last, the National Treasury has come clear on the controversy that has been raging over how best public funds should be allocated to the different arms of government. It has made it clear that annual budgets of Parliament and the Judiciary, just like that of the Executive, must be allocated budgetary funds on a needs basis, guided by existing economic realities.That decision effectively rejects a position that the Budget and Appropriation Committee (BAC) has been fronting from last year. That the recurrent expenditures of both Parliament and the Judiciary be allowed to rise automatically by 7.5 per cent every year.Though one may argue that the three arms of government need to be independent of each other that must not be stretched to include writing own cheques to spend taxpayers’ money without a justification.We trust that the best budget brains sit at the National Treasury, where there is also a complete picture of the needs and priorities of government.But we must also appreciate the powerful role that the Constitution has assigned Parliament (BAC) in the budget-making process. This makes it prudent that each arm of the government be left to play its role. The National Treasury must be allowed to design annual budgets based on the resource envelope and priority feedback as communicated by citizens through public participation forums.And let Parliament make its input by being the final determinant of what actually goes to each arm of government.To be sure, a fair allocation should be arrived at as a calculus of projected tax revenues, strategic importance of the recipient and its ability to absorb the funds.

That, in short, is what the Constitution demands and is what Kenyans expect from the various stakeholders. The ultimate goal must be to prevent profligate spending that has and continues to delay Kenya’s economic takeoff.The National Treasury must therefore match its talk of austerity measures with action.Kenyans want to see an end to wasteful spending in public offices and one way to demonstrate seriousness of this matter is to surcharge culpable individuals as provided for in Article 226 of the constitution.

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