Budget: Agriculture sector still grappling with pending bills

Written By: Benson Rioba/Claire Wanja

In the draft 3.63 trillion shillings 2021/2022 budget, the National Treasury has proposed to allocate 62 billion shillings to the agriculture sector

Since the first case of the Covid-19 was reported in the country early last year, the agriculture sector has been facing a myriad of challenges.

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Farmers had to content with the loss of ready markets for their produce as containment measures took a toll on the sector’s value chain.

In the 2021/2022 budget estimates tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani proposes to allocate agriculture Kshs 62.6 billion.

Of the amount, Kshs 46 billion has been allocated to crop development, with the fisheries department getting Kshs 10b billion and livestock farming getting the least amount at Khs 6.6 billion.

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The total agriculture proposed allocation has been met with criticism from the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture that feels the sum is not sufficient to revive a sector that is still struggling from the negative effects of Covid-19.

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The Budget and Appropriations Committee report says the agriculture sector is still grappling with the historical pending bills.

Hon. Kanini Kega, who chairs the Budget and Appropriation Committee, moves a motion on the consideration of the budget estimates for the financial year 2021/2022 (General Debate – 1st allotted day).

” We made a few observations arising from the interactions with departmental committees. A huge is the pending bills. Despite the presidential directive in June 2019 that all pending bills by government agencies be cleared immediately. They continue to present a significant challenge in almost all sectors of the budget. It is noted that the veracity of some of these pending bills is also in doubt.” Said  Hon. Kanini Kega

” There’s hue and cry everywhere that government is not paying and it’s a challenge we’re throwing to Treasury because pending bills should always, at all times, be the first charge. There’s the issue of stalled projects. This has become a permanent feature in our budgets. There’s no adherence to project guidelines issued by the national treasury including introduction of new projects before completion of existing ones despite the thin spread of resources. A policy must be implemented to ensure enforcement of the PFM and treasury guidelines.” He added

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The State Department of Livestock has a pending bill of slightly over Kshs 4 billion that has seen it scale down on some key projects with some taking long to complete.

The report further states that the state department for crop development implementation of the e-voucher system is taking long.

It further notes that nutrition sensitization programme and national food reserve have a funding gap of Kshs 128 million and Kshs 200 million respectively.

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The crop department has also a fertilizer pending bill worth 8 billion shillings.

The Agriculture and Food Authority says there is need for more allocations in the agriculture sector to enforce rules and regulations that will bring sanity in the sector that has been blighted by middlemen and unscrupulous traders who fleece farmers.

Some of the sub sectors that are targeted for policy change include tea, coffee, sugar and potato value chains.

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani is expected to read the 2021-2022 budget before the National Assembly. This year’s budget will be the second to be read under the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo Courtesy

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani is expected to read the Kshs 3.63 trillion 2021-2022 budget today (Thursday), before the National Assembly.

The proposed budget is slightly higher than the current financial year, which its budget was Sh2.8 trillion.

This year’s budget has boosted the allocation to the Big Four Agenda, compared to the Sh128.3 billion set aside for the same in the current FY.

 

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