Budget cuts relegate Big 4’s food security, manufacturing projects

A locally manufactured car.

A locally manufactured car. Allocations for manufacturing and food security programmes were slashed by Sh23.7 billion in the 2022/2023 budget.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday placed his last card on two of his four legacy projects by increasing funding to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and affordable housing, in a budget that saw the Big Four agenda allocation raised by Sh4.7 billion compared to last year.

For 2022/23, the Big Four got Sh146.8 billion, with Treasury CS Ukur Yatani announcing Sh28.4 billion more for UHC and affordable housing, raising their funding by 46.1 per cent.

UHC, which was allocated Sh47.7 billion in 2021/22, was yesterday allocated Sh62.3 billion, including Covid-19 vaccines (Sh7 billion) and free maternal healthcare (Sh4.1 billion), among other uses. The CS said the government had prepared the ground for 100 per cent UHC.

Affordable housing, which was allocated Sh13.9 billion last year, saw its funding increased to Sh27.7 billion in the financial year starting July 2022. CS Yatani said the funds would be distributed to Kenya Mortgage and Refinance Company (KMRC) for onward lending (Sh4.6 billion), construction of houses (Sh8.7 billion) and for upgrade of informal settlements (Sh5.9 billion), among other functions.

“The KMRC continues to play a leading role in the delivery of affordable housing in Kenya. I am pleased to note that since September 2020, KMRC has disbursed over Sh2 billion to seven primary mortgage lenders and is currently processing an additional Sh7 billion,” he stated.

Allocations slashed

But the allocations for manufacturing and food security and nutrition programmes, the other half of the Big Four agenda, were slashed by Sh23.7 billion.

Manufacturing was allocated Sh10.1 billion, from the Sh20.5 billion allocated in 2021/22. Of the sum, the credit guarantee scheme for SMEs got Sh1 billion, and Sh2.6 billion went to the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone. “Other proposed allocations include Sh410.4 million for the modernisation of Rivatex and Sh3 billion for supporting access to finance and enterprise recovery,” Mr Yatani stated.

The food security and nutrition pillar, whose budget was slashed from Sh60 billion last year to Sh46.7 billion, will now see Sh1.9 billion spent on emergency locust response, Sh690 million on food security and diversification, Sh147 million on climate-smart agriculture and Sh178 million on drought emergencies, among other uses.

“To improve livestock production, I propose Sh500 million for Free Disease Holding Ground in Lamu. I also propose Sh1.7 billion for the Kenya Livestock Commercialisation Programme, and Sh121 million for livestock production under Big Four initiative,” he said, adding the Big Four implementation has been hampered by the Covid-19 crisis.