What Uhuru splashed trillions on
With less than 100 days before his tenure ends, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration has in the last 10 years prepared national budgets totalling Sh24 trillion.
His very first budget was Sh1.42 trillion, while the last budget read in Parliament last month was Sh3.3 trillion.
An analysis by the Nation has revealed that his administration’s main priority areas have been education, security, infrastructure and his legacy projects under the Big Four Agenda. In its two terms in power, key sectors have registered a significant rise in allocated funds.
Between 2014 and 2017, education received Sh1.3 trillion, and Sh2.4 trillion between 2018 and 2022, registering an 84.62 per cent increase. Health registered a 135 per cent increase, from Sh228 billion to Sh537 billion in the same period.
Other sectors that saw an increase in allocations include agriculture (61 per cent) and security (68 per cent), while industrialisation and infrastructure grew by 33 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively.
However, sectors such as energy and social protection registered lower percentage increases in the 10 years of Mr Kenyatta’s tenure. Allocations to energy increased by 7 per cent and social protection by 9 percent.
The following is a breakdown of the allocations per sector.
Education received the highest allocation of funds during President Kenyatta’s administration. A total of Sh3.8 trillion has been allocated since 2013 to fund primary, secondary and university education, the Teachers Service Commission and vocational and technical training.
Health, one of the pillars of the Big Four Agenda, received Sh766 billion between 2014 and 2022. The Universal Health Coverage programme and response to the Covid-19 pandemic were some of the initiatives allocated the bulk of the funds in the budgets.
Major service providers such as Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Uasin Gishu were allocated Sh268 billion cumulatively.
The standard gauge railway is one of the major infrastructure projects undertaken by President Kenyatta’s government. It was allocated Sh590 billion, while the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor received Sh48 billion. Road construction, rehabilitation and expansion had the largest allocation, receiving over Sh1.5 trillion.
Security, which includes the Kenya Defence Forces, National Intelligence Service and National Police Service, received Sh2.5 trillion. The money was for leasing motor vehicles, purchasing equipment and medical insurance for officers, among others. The Interior ministry received Sh1.1 trillion while the Defence ministry received Sh967 billion.
Food security and agriculture
Food security received Sh468 billion in total. The money was channelled to support large-scale production of staple foods, expand irrigation schemes and increase access to agricultural inputs like fertilisers. Most of the money went into crop development, where Sh259 billion was allocated, while irrigation projects were allocated Sh102 billion.
Aquaculture, fisheries and the blue economy received Sh53 billion between 2014 and 2022.
The energy sector has received Sh876.5 billion over the last 10 years. The Kenyatta administration focused on rural electrification, with transmission and distribution of power receiving the biggest allocation every financial year. Geothermal energy production was allocated Sh100 billion, while Sh33 billion was set aside for exploration of oil and gas.
A total of Sh508 billion was allocated to the sector, with part of the money going to cushion vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people living with disabilities from economic hardship. Programmes such as the Uwezo Fund, the Women Enterprise Fund and the Youth Enterprise Fund also received cash from the allocation.
The Ministry of Industrialisation received the lowest allocation – only Sh92.5 billion in 10 years. This is despite manufacturing being one of the pillars of the Big Four Agenda.
To enhance good governance and fight corruption, the government allocated money to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Financial Reporting Centre, Assets Recovery Agency and Crime Investigations Service.
The EACC was allocated Sh27 billion and the DPP’s office Sh24 billion.
Other state institutions that received funds included the Office of the Auditor-General and the Office of the Attorney-General. The Judiciary received slightly over Sh158 billion, while Parliament received Sh300 billion.
Other key allocations
A colossal portion of President Kenyatta’s budgetary outlays in his tenure went to funding devolved governments. Between 2013 and 2022, counties were allocated Sh3.2 trillion. The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) received Sh333 billion while the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) received over Sh85 billion for the 2017 elections and the upcoming 2022 General Election.
Ten years of the Kenyatta administration have seen Kenya’s public debt rise to Sh8.02 trillion as per the official December 2021 figures, with Sh4.03 trillion comprising domestic debt and Sh4.17 trillion external.
When the late President Mwai Kibaki left office in March 2013, Kenya's total public debt stood at about Sh1.8 trillion, which was around 42.8 per cent of the country’s annual productivity. He had taken over from President Moi in 2002, when Kenya’s total public debt was about Sh630 billion.
When the Jubilee administration assumed office, it had big infrastructure projects lined up, and with huge financing hurdles in its way, it resorted to borrowing. What started as a prudent borrowing plan quickly turned into a spree.
Kenya went for its first Eurobond in June 2014, in which a total of Sh280 billion was borrowed. The second Eurobond in 2018 raised Sh202 billion in debt. In 2019, the government went for a third one, raising Sh210 billion. In total, Kenya has raised about Sh692 billion in Eurobonds.
The government has increased debt by a staggering Sh6.2 trillion since 2013.
Fulfilling the Big Four Agenda
The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), in a 2021 report, said the ambitious legacy projects known as the Big Four Agenda would not be achieved during President Kenyatta’s tenure. It pointed out that no significant effort had been made to achieve the goals under the four key pillars – manufacturing, food security, universal healthcare and affordable housing.
Under manufacturing, President Kenyatta sought to support value addition and create jobs. However, the PBO said progress had been slow in the textile and leather industries, which were set to deliver the agenda. Instead, many manufacturers continue to decry the high cost of doing business, with some even threatening to close shop and relocate.
On ensuring the country becomes food-secure, the report cited the failure of large-scale irrigation schemes, notably the Galana-Kulalu scheme, adding that most dam projects had not been completed.
Kenya is currently grappling with drought, with the northern part bearing the brunt. On health, the PBO found that the outstanding issues in the governance and structure of the National Health Insurance Fund have hindered its efforts to fully transition into a universal health insurer for all Kenyans.
The PBO also noted that President Kenyatta will not achieve his goal of building 500,000 affordable residences, as only 1,370 units had been completed in Park Road, Ngara, Nairobi, under the affordable housing programme.
As President Kenyatta’s tenure ends with the August elections, many Kenyans continue to grapple with the high cost of living. The rise in fuel prices, the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and the ravaging drought are some of the factors that have hampered economic recovery.
President Kenyatta’s administration has been criticised for allocating massive amounts of money to infrastructure projects while priority should have been given to food security and job creation.