East African Community (EAC) member states have prioritised development expenditure as countries look to further strengthen the growth agenda of the regional economies.
In the national budget estimates presented yesterday, the regional bloc’s biggest economy Kenya will be spending $22.8 billion, Tanzania $13.5 billion, and Uganda $12 billion during the next financial year that starts on July 1. Rwanda plans to spend some $2.49 billion in the fiscal year 2016/17. Burundi budget reading is not aligned with that of the EAC bloc.
While presenting the budget speech, Kenya’s Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, said the 2016/17 budget will focus on infrastructure development, agriculture, including agro-processing to spur the country’s growth, among others. The minister also abolished tea and sugar development levy.
The energy sector got Ksh39.9 billion, standard gauge railway (Ksh228.5 billion) and roads got Ksh147.6 billion.
In Tanzania, Minister for Finance Phillip Mpango indicated that the new budget is focusing on alleviating challenges of people in low-income groups, and setting the foundation for middle-income country.
In a country, where the national debt reportedly stands at $20.94 billion as of March, programmes geared at supporting development were allocated 40 per cent of the total budget, an increase from 25 per cent this fiscal year.
Among others, the Tanzanian government intends to borrow Tsh7.4 trillion from domestic revenue to fill the gaps of the fiscal year 2016/17. The government will also spend Sh17.7 trillion on operational costs and Sh11.8 trillion for development. Over Tsh4.77 trillion or 22.1 per cent of the total budget has been allocated to the ministry of education. The minister announced tax increases on spirits and locally-produced beer brands. About Tsh18.4 trillion or about 62.5 per cent of the budget will be raised from domestic revenue.
Uganda’s 2016/17 will seek strengthen gains made this financial year by funding energy and transport infrastructure projects, as well as programmes that enhance agriculture modernisation and value addition to boost exports.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija’s budget presented under the theme, “Enhanced productivity for job-creation” total Ugsh26, 361 billion. Kasaija said the commercialisation of oil and gas resources is one of the key objectives of the government next fiscal year. As such, the government has allocated Ugsh188.2 billion to implement programmes for oil and gas development.
However, the works ministry was allocated Ugsh3.7 trillion, the biggest share of the country’s 2016/17 fiscal year budget. It is followed by the education sector with Ugsh2.7 trillion and the energy sector with Ugsh2.4 trillion.
The minister slapped a 400 per cent tax increase on personalised car number plates.
The minister also increased the agricultural sector’s budget by Ugsh343.46 billion to Ugsh823.42 billion to promote commercial and modern farming practices in a country where agriculture sector is key growth driver.