By Constance Ndeleko
The 2021 Budget Policy Statement (BPS) is a Government policy document that sets out the broad strategic priorities and policy goals to guide the National Government and the County Governments in preparing their budgets for the subsequent financial year and over the medium term.
The Covid-19 Pandemic and the containment measures that have been put in place, have not only disrupted the normal lives and livelihoods, but also to a greater extent exacerbated stress levels for businesses and economic activities.
Due to these unprecedented times, the Kenyan economy is estimated to slow down to 0.6 percent in 2020 from a growth of 5.4 percent in 2019. Progressively, the economy is projected to recover and grow by about 6.4 percent in 2021 and above 6.2 percent over the medium term.
We all witnessed the shortfalls in revenues which have reflected weak business environment and swayed the need for the implementation of tax reliefs in April 2020 to support people and businesses from the adverse effect of Covid-19 Pandemic.
The Government has embarked on expenditure rationalization and prioritization to ensure that expenditures are on the most impactful programs that yield the highest welfare benefits to Kenyans.
To achieve these, the Government sets to:
Improve access to education, strengthen health care systems and enhance cash transfers to support the vulnerable members of our society;
The government is expected to pay greater attention to economic governance, inequality, social cohesion, gender, youth, regional integration, and international cooperation.
Enhanced Budgetary Allocations to Strengthen Health Care Systems; The Covid-19 pandemic has overstretched the country’s health care system.
Up-scale Investment in ICT and Digital Infrastructure. . In particular, focus will be on prioritizing critical connectivity infrastructure and bridging the digital gaps, development of appropriate content, skills development, and enhancing affordability, accessibility and reliability of digital infrastructure.
Addressing Inequality, Social Cohesion, Community Resilience and Strengthening Social Protection- the Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the challenges in implementation of effective containment measures in unequal societies. Unequal access to services widens social and economic inequalities thereby undermining the overall goal of social cohesion that is so vital to our society.
The Government will also carry out deliberate outreach programs in marginalized counties to scale up youth involvement in gainful economic activities.e.g. ; Review of the National Policy on Gender Based Violence, 2014; Finalization of the regulations on the Protection against Domestic Violence Act, 2015.
The Government has made great strides in ensuring that every Kenyan has access to quality and affordable healthcare under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Program. However, the outbreak and rapid spread of COVID -19 Pandemic has necessitated the urgent need to upscale implementation of the UHC to help eradicate the ‘poverty of dignity’ and transition our nation into an era where no Kenyan is forced to sell their land in order to settle medical bills; or be forced to make a choice between buying the much needed medicine and using the money to feed their children.
To further improve the quality and reach of health care services in the country, the Government will continue to improve maternal, new born and child health services; reduce malaria related mortality in Kenya; enhance early diagnosis and management options for cancer and renal diseases through the recently launched oncology center at Kenyatta University Teaching, Research and Referral Hospital.
Mental illness has increasingly caused serious national distress and anguish across the country. To curb further increase, the Government has established an Office in the Ministry of Health, with the full responsibility of spearheading the national response to the disruption caused by mental illness to our social order and the nation’s wellness. To institutionalize this initiative, the Government is establishing an ultra-modern National Mental Health Hospital by elevating Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital as a semi-autonomous specialized hospital.
The Government through the Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) pillar is prioritizing on the social housing program in order to address these challenges and contain the proliferation of slums in the urban cities.
The Government also committed an additional Ksh 4.0 billion for supporting local artisans and builder’s businesses through the purchase of 250,000 locally fabricated desks and construction of additional classrooms for secondary schools. 173.
To protect, nurture and mould our young children into responsible citizens, the Government has continued to institute far-reaching reforms within the education sector.
The Government continues to make sustained investments in the education sector. This has increased access to quality basic education and improved the outcomes of our public schools as seen in high literacy level rankings among peer nations.
To bridge the skills gap, the Government also introduced the competence based curriculum in 2019, the curriculum is in line with the ongoing digital transformation.
The education sector aims to achieve seven strategic objectives namely
(i) enhance access, equity, quality and relevance in education, training and research;
(ii) establish, maintain and manage professional teaching and learning services for all early learning centers, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions;
(iii) Enhance development capacities for Science Technology and Innovations;
(iv) Enhance mechanisms for dissemination and commercialization of research findings;
(v) Improve data quality and sharing in education, training, research and labor market;
(vi) Promote vibrant industry-institutional linkages in the area of skilling for employability; and
(vii) Integrate ICT in Education, Training and Research for management, teaching and learning at all levels
The government has also outline the following to ensure that the education sector is not left behind:
Resource allocation issues:
• Increase budget allocation for government sponsored students
• Increase capitation of TVET students from Kshs. 15,000 to Kshs. 30,000
• Enhance funding for Adult & Continuing education and staff recruitment • Vocational training students be allowed to join KUPPCS
Proposed way forward/ Action taken/ Response
• Need to increase funding for field offices under the State Department for Basic Education and Early Learning
• The Government should consider sending funds straight to the VCTs and work in collaboration with County Governments to increase efficiency