Agencies in Covid-19 war get little in mini budget

doctor and laboratory specialists wear protective gear, before visiting the ward for quarantined people who had close contact with the first Kenyan Cvoid-19 patient, at the Infectious Disease Unit of the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. PHOTO | YASUYOSHI CHIBA | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The budget, the second of the 2019/20 financial year, is being considered by the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee.
  • In the revised budget, the government seeks to raise Sh40.9 billion to address the impact of the pandemic and other associated emergencies.
  • The budget for the rollout of the UHC has been reduced by Sh9.4 billion but interestingly, the performance indicators and the targets remain the same.

Health institutions fighting the coronavirus may remain exposed as they have not been given enough resources in Supplementary Budget II, lawmakers have said.

The budget, the second of the 2019/20 financial year, is being considered by the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee.

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) also says the removal of seed money for the National Housing Development Fund will make it difficult to pursue the programme in the target period.

In the revised budget, the government seeks to raise Sh40.9 billion to address the impact of the pandemic and other associated emergencies.

The PBO says the proposed reduction of the development budget by Sh75.35 billion will undermine project implementation and the growth of the country’s economy.

“Institutions like referral hospitals and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), which are leading the response to the coronavirus pandemic, have not been allocated or have been given little,” PBO says in the report before the committee chaired by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah.

“These facilities may be stretched and could require additional budgetary support in the next two months.”

OTHER ALLOCATIONS

In the revised budget, the Health ministry has been given Sh3.9 billion to fight Covid-19.

At least Sh1 billion is for hiring health workers and Sh300 million for operations.

About Sh2.6 billion has been allocation to the Covid-19 emergency response project meant for the targeted testing and treating of 100,000 people.

“This means the ministry has minimal funding … from the government. Given the magnitude of this pandemic, this allocation seems inadequate,” the report says.

There is also a significant reduction of external funding support towards interventions such as tuberculosis, malaria, universal health coverage (UHC) as well as UHC complimentary funding, an indication that the development partners have withheld full financial year funding for various interventions.

The budget for the rollout of the UHC has been reduced by Sh9.4 billion but interestingly, the performance indicators and the targets remain the same.

Under the reduced allocation to the housing project, the PBO warns that the removal of seed money for the National Housing Development Fund will make it difficult to pursue the programme within the set period.

“There is need for the State Department of Housing and Urban Development to explain how it will achieve this ambitious agenda,” the PBO report says.

HYPED AGENDA

In his announcement to the country after the 2017 general election, President Uhuru Kenyatta undertook construction of 500,000 affordable housing units by the time he leaves office in 2022 after serving his second and final term.

But so far, the government has only started work on 211 units along the city’s park road area. They remain incomplete.

“Resources allocated to Big Four projects under the State Department of Public Works have been slashed substantially, depicting a possible policy shift from the much-hyped agenda,” the report states.

On Monday, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani said Sh96 billion from the unspent balance of Sh122.1 billion had been rationalised to raise funds for the Covid-19 and other emergencies.

“Due to the prevailing economic situation, we propose to freeze implementation of projects in the development budget including allocation to the Big Four,” Mr Yattani told the MPs.

Also rationalised is the Sh20.3 billion in the recurrent budget from communications supplies, domestic and foreign travel, hospitality, training, purchase of furniture, refurbishment of government buildings, purchase of vehicles and savings from salaries following delays in approved promotions and recruitments.

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