14 March 2017

East Africa: Kenya to Go Ahead of Its EAC Neighbours, Read Budget Before June

With its Parliament set to be in recess in June, Kenya will have to read its budget for 2017/2018 ahead of the other East African Community partner states, to free funds for the August general election.

The EAC states agreed in 2007 to harmonise their budget reading as part of efforts towards harmonising their taxation regimes. When the budgets are not read together there is the risk of policy leaks and unfair business practices.

The EastAfrican has learnt that Kenya's National Treasury is consulting the other EAC member states over the matter.

"Our aim is to finalise everything that is done in June by March this year, because of the coming elections, and this is actually taking a toll on us," a Treasury official told The EastAfrican.

According to the parliamentary timetable, the legislators are expected to take a break in April to participate in party nominations, and return in May for one month before parliament is dissolved 60 days ahead of the elections as per the law.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich submitted to the National Budget estimates for the 2017/2018 fiscal year in February 2017, and the Budget and Appropriation committee of parliament is expected to discuss and review the estimates and make recommendations to the National Assembly before the budget is read.

Once approved by the National Assembly, the estimates of the national government, judiciary and parliament expenditures are included in the Appropriations Bill.

The chairman of the Budget and Appropriation Committee Mutava Musyimi said that the budget estimates for the 2017/2018 fiscal year would be adopted and the Appropriations Bill passed before the parliament goes for recess from April 6 to May 8.

"We want to be done with this business before we go for recess. We will be meeting from March 20-22 to review and adopt the report," said Mr Musyimi, adding that the approval of the Finance Bill 2017 could be done by the next parliament after June 30.

He said the Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury would decide when to read the budget in collaboration with the other EAC member states after parliament has approved it and passed the Appropriations Bill.

Geoffrey Mwau, the director-general at the Budget, Fiscal and Economic Affairs Department in Kenya's National Treasury said the Treasury's plan is to complete the budget process by March 31, but would not disclose the date set for the reading.

"Reading is a ceremonial event to be decided by the Cabinet Secretary," said Dr Mwau.

It is, however, unlikely that the other countries will be ready to read their budgets before June. In Uganda, the budget scrutiny process is still ongoing and the reading date is still scheduled for June 2017. In Rwanda, Finance Minister Claver Gatete said it was not possible for Rwanda to present the budget this month.

In Tanzania, MPs' budget sessions are expected to start in April and the Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai said he has not yet received communication from the finance minister on the proposed budget reading dates.

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