MPs Continue To Trade Blame Over Ballooning Debt

Written by on 23 February 2022

Leaders from across the political divide have continued trading blame as debt increasingly becomes a campaign issue. But just who is to blame and where do we go from here?

The finger of blame has been pointed at the National Assembly for its role in raising the debt ceiling and its perceived failure to check the executive.

Minority Leader John Mbadi and former Majority Leader Aden Duale are on opposite sides of the political divide, but both are agreed in their defence of the August House.

“Parliament has been approving the borrowings… what Parliament does not approve is where or what project does the money go to and I think that is something that we have been pushing for a very long time. We have complained about that but the Executive is not changing the way of handling the borrowed funds…,” says Mbadi

However, Duale says: “The Budget and Appropriations Committee, when Mutava Musyimi was chair when Kimani Ichung’wa was chair, there was a constant recommendation by the committee to the National Treasury that the growing debt was not tenable and that debt should be restructured….”

“Meaning can we go towards multilateral lenders world bank IMF where the period is long and interest rate lower, that has not been implemented…,” says the Garissa Township MP.

A Bill by Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi aimed at creating a National Debt Authority, as an independent body tasked with managing the country’s public debt, stalled for unexplained reasons.

“Sakwa Bunyasi’s bill is being frustrated by the National Treasury because he says let us create an independent office outside the national treasury that will deal with debt but what am I doing myself, even in standing orders, I have proposed to the parliamentary budget office to have an independent body, two that the national treasury should have no role in debt matters, should have an independent office managed by independent people, three we must reduce fiscal deficit…,” adds Duale.

Mbadi on the other hand maintains: “We need a cabinet secretary or minister who is going to be a strong CS and the technical team must be listened to and you need a president who respects economics not one who listens to politics, the Jubilee quest for a second term is what got us here, le us not sugar-coat it…”

The parliamentary leaders say the government’s insatiable appetite for expensive loans and massive projects has left the country in a hole.

According to the budget committee, as of June 2013, the public debt was Ksh.1.9 trillion. Five years later, the figure had risen by close to Ksh.4 trillion to stand at Ksh.5.05 trillion.

By December 2021 it was Ksh.8.21 trillion and the projection for June this year was Ksh.8.8 trillion with the situation likely to be worsened by the effects of COVID-19.

“Kenya has to borrow now but did we have to borrow between 2013 and 2018 in the kind of amounts we were borrowing? Did we have to implement the ongoing projects? Kenya is like a construction site, now that we are in those projects we must complete them so that they can be able to pay the loans, the projects must be completed,” says Mbadi

The 2022/2023 budget will be President Kenyatta’s final budget as his term comes to an end. It is already grappling with a Ksh.846 billion deficit which must be financed through borrowing in what will likely see the Ksh.9 trillion debt ceiling surpassed.

In the run-up to the August polls, politics of economy, budget and debt are set to keep dominating the political scene as Parliament prepares to review the estimates in the coming days.

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