Parliamentarians in Kenya have passed the budget estimates for the Financial Year 2023/24 ahead of the reading of President William Ruto’s first budget since he won the presidency last year.
This year’s budget, the biggest in Kenya’s history will hit Sh3.679 trillion budget (24 billion euros) if redemptions and appropriations-in-aid are factored in, indicating the increasing pain of debt repayments.
The Executive was allocated Sh2.1 trillion, Parliament Sh40 billion while the Judiciary and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) got Sh22.9 billion.
The 2023-2024 budget will be financed by a battery of new taxes – ranging from imported fish to beauty products to gambling – which should generate 2 billion euros in revenue.
The government also wants to introduce an unpopular payroll levy to finance a low-cost housing program. Initially set at 3%, it has been reduced to 1.5%.
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“We have to make sacrifices in the short term to succeed in the long term. We have to sacrifice for the future, explained Finance Minister Njunguna Ndung’u on national TV on Thursday.
This draft budget adds fuel to the growing criticism of President William Ruto particularly over the rising cost of living. Elected in August 2022 as the herald of the “resourceful” little people, the head of state is accused of being powerless in the face of the price rises that have been hitting Kenya for months, and even of having exacerbated them by removing fuel and maize flour subsidies.
During the budget presentation, MPs from the opposition coalition Azimio left the room to express their disagreement with the text and the timetable for the vote.
Kenya’s public debt stands at $65 billion, or around 67% of gross domestic product, and repayment is becoming increasingly costly as the shilling continues to depreciate.