Kenya’s budget will be read next week, 10 weeks ahead of the usual time, to allow for the release of money for elections set for August 8, and give the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission adequate time to prepare.
Bringing forward the reading of the budget will allow MPs to pass the Finance Bill, which contains financial proposals for the year starting in July. The budget could not have been read in June as agreed by East Africa's finance ministers 10 years ago, because parliament has to be dissolved at least 60 days before the general election, that is by June 8.
Treasury confirmed on March 17 that the budget would be read on March 30, after speculation about the date prompted by audit firms inviting participants to their annual budget seminars.
“This is to notify the general public that the Budget Statement for the fiscal year 2017/18 budget will be delivered by the Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury, to the National Assembly on 30th March at 3:00pm,” said Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge in a statement.
Mr Rotich submitted budget estimates for the 2017/2018 fiscal year to the National Assembly last month. Under the Constitution, the deadline for the submission is April 30.
The 2017 budget policy statement shows expenditure during the 2017/18 financial year will be Ksh2.29 trillion ($22.9 billion) to be financed through revenue of Ksh1.9 trillion ($19 billion) and grants of Ksh51.5 billion ($515 million), resulting in a deficit of Ksh530.9 billion ($5.31 billion).
Analysts have said the government must cut unnecessary expenditure, given the widening budget deficit, and champion inclusive growth in what is expected to be a populist stance in an election year. President Uhuru Kenyatta has already ordered removal of levies charged by environmental and construction regulators, and other unpopular taxes could be cut while expanding social programmes that uplift the poor.
In April, parliamentarians will break for party nominations, and resume in May. The parliament will be dissolved in June, in accordance with the Election Act, that provides for 60 days before the election date. Lack of quorum in parliament would make it impossible to approve key financial legislations such as the Appropriation Bill and Finance Bill.
In 2007, EAC member states agreed to have a common budget reading day as part of efforts towards harmonising their taxation regimes in line with the ongoing regional integration process.
If the budgets are not read at the same time, there is the risk of policy leaks and unfair business practices creeping in.
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda usually read their budgets at the same time after they agreed to harmonise their budget reading process.
Burundi is yet to adjust its fiscal year in line with the other EAC member states as the fiscal year runs from January to December, and their budget reading takes place in December.