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MPs must take budget making more seriously.

figure By EDITORIAL Parliament is discussing budgetary proposals for the next financial year. However, our concern is the way the exercise is being conducted.

The MPs have not been applying themselves with the requisite rigour and zeal.Several budgetary proposals are made and passed without thorough scrutiny.

Experience from the unfolding scandals on dam construction, among others, underscore the fact that Parliament has not been doing its work effectively. Huge sums of money are voted without thorough interrogation.

The reason the Constitution gave Parliament the mandate of budget making was that it represents the interest of the citizens.MPs have a relatively good sense of the pulse on the ground they understand and can appreciate what the citizens want, which they have to factor in when considering budget proposals.

To this extent, sectoral budget proposals are presented before various parliamentary committees for scrutiny before the final estimates are determined.Arguably, this is a noble undertaking that must be handled with the seriousness it deserves.

That is what we demand of the MPs: Scrupulousness and diligence.For good measure, Parliament has a fully fledged budgetary office with experts charged with advising and supporting MPs in combing through the proposals, exploring scenarios and clarifying issues to ensure knowledgeable determination of estimates.

At this point in time, one of the troubling issues is the ballooning public debt burden. Available data shows that in the coming financial year alone the government will be required to repay loans worth more than Sh1 trillion, or half of the total annual budgetary requirements.

The country had accumulated debt to the tune of Sh5.46 trillion by the end of last year, according to the Central Bank, or 57 percent of gross domestic product. That sum is approaching the 60 percent mark that critical internationally acknowledged threshold after which an economy tanks.

The country's debt burden is headed to crisis levels. Question is: What is Parliament doing about it? We recognise that the Budget and Appropriations Committee is asking for a cap on the amount of money the government can borrow.

But that is coming late in the day. Crucially, it is the very Parliament that, a few years ago, did away with the numerical cap and introduced a formula based on projections on GDP growth, which is quite transient.

The argument we are making is that Parliament should take budget making more seriously. Budget is the singular most important tool for an economy hence, the MPs, who are responsible for its formulation, must apply themselves fully to it.

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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Feb 28, 2019
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