One on one with Treasury CS Ukur Yatani ahead of budget reading

One on one with Treasury CS Ukur Yatani ahead of budget reading
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani during a past interview

This year’s budget reading process is expected to be different.

Like other State functions, it will have minimal attendance  with the highlight of Treasury CS Ukur Yatani’s speech expected to be how the country is preparing to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

From the National Treasury, only 4 people will go to Parliament buildings including the Treasury CS, with only 25% of MPs expected to attend the ceremony.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the measures taken will see the budget presentation done in a unique way.

The stringent measures put in place by the Health Ministry will see less than 90 out of the 349 lawmakers present for the budget presentation.

This will also be the first time where the national budget will be lower than the previous year.

“We had to revise the budget to align with the current situation. The first thing we did was cushioning the vulnerable sectors of the populace, businesses as well,” CS Yatani said.

Speaking during an interview with Citizen TV on Tuesday, CS Yatani said the government has been affected greatly by the pandemic having to forgo taxes that where crucial to the budget making process.

“We have reduced VAT, income tax and in the process we have forgone Ksh. 172billion, these are funds that would have ordinarily be used in the budget,” he added.

Dubbed ‘Mr. Austerity’ by some government officials, CS Yatani said the pandemic aided his cost-cutting measure as the government stopped all local and international trips.

He stated that the funds allocated for travel have been re-allocated to aid in fighting the pandemic.

“Monies that were allocated previously to these purposes have already been shifted towards fighting the pandemic and cushioning the venerable in the country,” he said.

The CS further said that the country is in negotiations with its lenders to see how best it can restructure its loans, given that 55% of our revenues go towards loan repayments .

“We were given a moratorium that we suspend payments from now to December but eventually pay the debt so we are looking at all the implications that this might have and also evaluating other options,” he noted.

He further dispelled fears that Kenya’s debt situation is alarming insisting that the payments made year on year were sufficient making the debt obligation manageable.

“We have now worked on the future, we know what our obligation is every year and making sure that everything we borrow can be repaid sustainably without increasing the total,” he said.

On pending bills, the CS said that some government officials have been treating it with a lack of seriousness that is concerning especially in counties.

He particularly singled out Nairobi County as the most notorious.

In the proposals, the total expenditure and net lending is estimated at Ksh. 2.7trillion with recurrent expenditure amounting to Ksh. 1.8trillion, while development expenditure is estimated at Ksh. 584.9billion.

The post- COVID-19 economic stimulus program is estimated to cost approximately Ksh. 53.74billion.

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