President William Ruto dropped over 3,000 kilometres of roads that former President Uhuru Kenyatta planned to build during the current financial year, indicating a new course for the new administration away from its predecessor’s priorities.
This comes against the backdrop of a Sh47.3 billion budget cut on the government’s infrastructural projects during the financial year to June 2023, 99 per cent of which affects the construction of roads.
The government, in the mini-budget published in January, proposes to drop the construction of at least 1,089km of roads across different parts of the country, while 2,304km that had been lined up for rehabilitation and maintenance in the financial year to June, will also be shelved.
Among key roads that had been planned for construction but have now been largely scaled down include the dualling of the Thika-Kenol-Marua road, the construction of Arusha-Holili-Voi road and the construction of the Mau Mau Road.
Another key road to suffer President Ruto’s budget cut is the Horn of Africa Gateway Development Project, a key road that is expected to link Kenya with Somalia and Ethiopia and boost trade among the three countries.
Treasury in the Supplementary Budget One of 2022/23 cut the total budget to the State Department for Infrastructure from Sh221.3 billion to Sh174 billion.
Attributing the cuts to budget rationalisation, about 99 per cent of the Treasury’s cut on the funding for road infrastructure projects was on the development side, whose budget was reduced by Sh47.1 billion.
The Treasury cut the infrastructure budget by 21.4 per cent. Mr Ken Gichinga, Chief Economist at Mentoria Economics, observes that, while the government’s fiscal consolidation objective is laudable, the budget cuts on roads will lower economic output, particularly when roads connecting to markets are affected.
The government, Mr Gichinga argues, must balance its need to cut spending with effects on economic output.
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