Alarm over excessive government borrowing as Kenya's debt hits Sh3.2 trillion

Documents recently tabled in parliament paint a grim picture of Kenya’s current financial position.

___5627990___https:______static.pulse.com.gh___webservice___escenic___binary___5627990___2016___10___19___12___Treasury

The figures submitted by the National Treasury reveal that the country borrowed nearly Sh200 billion between January and July this year alone translating to an average of over Sh800 million every day.

However, the government insists that the money has been used to finance key development projects across the country.

Economists and opposition leaders led by Raila Odinga have criticised the government’s heavy borrowing, which they say has sunk Kenya deeper into debt.

Public debt

The country’s public debt now stands at Sh3.2 trillion, up from Sh1.6 trillion in 2013 even as experts warn that the ballooning public debt is unsustainable.

The opposition has challenged the government to make a full disclosure of the amounts borrowed, sources of the funds and the repayment amount in terms of capital and interest from January 2013 to date.

A major cause of worry is the National Treasury’s unclear explanation of the expenditure of some of the money as the details remain scanty.

Though part of the loan had been allocated for infrastructure and development, there lacked supportive evidence given to parliament on the same.

A section of Members of Parliament has called on the Budget and Appropriations Committee needs to take its role seriously and scrutinise Treasury’s management strategy for borrowing.

Already, experts have warned that the ballooning public debt is unsustainable.

Top borrowers

Kenya stands fifth in the International Development Association’s ranking of the top 10 borrowers in its 2015 financial year.

During the State House summit on Transport and Infrastructure in August this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta insisted Kenya was best placed to know the projects that have a direct impact on its people.

The president’s sentiments were seen as a response to an article published in The Economist that revealed the World Bank's criticism of the Standard Gauge Railway which they termed as uneconomical.

There is also worry that the government is implementing too many projects at a go, greatly contributing to the massive borrowing.

Jubilee flagship projects

Some of these flagship projects include the Standard Gauge Railway, LAPPSET, the school’s laptop programme, large scale irrigation schemes, National Youth Service Programme, geothermal power generation, the rural electrification programme and free maternal health care.

Though all these are seen by many as an attempt to frame the current administration’s economic legacy positively to boost its re-election come next year, the presidency maintains that the projects are aimed at steering the country towards realising the double-digit growth and achievement of the Vision 2030 blueprint.

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