EAC states hike spending on productive sectors

TANZANIA, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda presented their 2023/2024 budgets before their respective parliaments on Thursday, with all prioritising productive sectors.

According to the EAC Treaty, Finance Ministers of the partner states read their budgets simultaneously, under a common theme.

Exemptions are Burundi, South Sudan and latest entrant the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Burundi’s Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Audace Niyonzima, tabled his country’s budget estimate on Tuesday, with spending projected to rise 65 per cent to BF3.95 trillion ($1.41 billion) in the 2023/2024 financial year. The previous budget was BF2.39 trillion.

The South Sudan cabinet passed a SSP1.8 trillion budget for the next fiscal year in May, up 12.5 per cent from SSP1.4 trillion for the 2022/2023 period. The budget is yet to be tabled in parliament for approval.

DRC is yet to adjust its budget reading in harmony with the EAC. In December, the country increased its 2023 budget by 46 per cent to $16 billion.

Kinshasa formally joined the regional bloc in July last year after depositing instruments of ratification on the accession of the EAC Treaty.

In Tanzania, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba presented a 44.38tri/- budget, up seven per cent from 41.48tri/-.

He said the government plans to further implement a number of priority projects during the next fiscal year, with a view to stimulate a competitive and inclusive economy and boost industrial production and trade.

The areas of focus are also expected to motivate human development, develop human resources, enhance public-private partnership and increase investments in public institutions and parastatals.

On the priority, Dr Nchemba mentioned several projects in different sectors, including infrastructure, transport, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, industry, energy and others.

One of the key transport infrastructures to receive significant budget for implementation is the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)

In 2023/24, the government will continue to implement various strategic projects in five priority areas as outlined in the Third National Five-Year Development Plan 2021/22 – 2025/26 including enhancing Competitive and Inclusive Economy:

In this category, the emphasis will be on implementing projects that aim to improve infrastructure, institution frameworks and diffusion of information and communication technology.

Implementation of these projects will strengthen the investment environment and macroeconomic stability.

In order to deepen industrialisation and service provision the government plans to implement projects that will enhance productive sectors including Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

These projects are namely Agricultural Sector Development Programme II; strengthening marketing infrastructure for livestock and its products, strengthening of irrigation infrastructures by constructing new 25 schemes and rehabilitating 30 schemes with a total of 95,005 hectares in various regions and enhancing extension services.

Moreover, the focus will be on the improvement of small and medium enterprises – SIDO and Kilimanjaro Machine Tools Plant and enhancing the special economic Zones and Industrial clusters.

In 2023/24 he said the government will continue to implement the flagship projects that are expected to have large multiplier effects in the economy, including: the construction of the Central Railway line to Standard Gauge Railway – SGR; Julius Nyerere Hydro-Power Project – 2115 MW; improvement of Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL)  construction of Liquefied Natural Gas Plant (LNG) – Lindi; Ruhudji (358 MW) and Rumakali (222 MW) Hydro-Power.

Also the government will continue to improve the business environment and strengthen the private sector participation in implementing development activities.

The focus will be on monitoring the implementation of Blueprint for regulatory reforms to improve the business environment; enhancing business and marketing services; coordinating institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks and measures related to a reduction in the cost of doing business and improving the services provided to investors at One Stop Centre.

Kenya’s Finance Minister, Njuguna Ndung’u, presented a Ksh3.6 trillion budget for 2023/24, a 6.5 per cent increase from the Ksh3.38 trillion the previous year.

The development budget has been set at KSh 718.9 billion, reflecting the government’s focus on infrastructure and other growth-oriented projects.

The national government is allocated KSh 2.3 trillion, highlighting its role in driving the country’s overall economic agenda.

This 2023/24 budget is formulated in the context of numerous external shocks, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya also faces significant economic challenges such as a rising cost of living, a high debt load nearing the KSh 10 trillion limit, a weakened shilling exchange rate against the US dollar, as well as increased food and fuel prices.

On manufacturing, Kenya is looking to adopt decarbonised manufacturing (emissions-free production by switching from fuel-based sources of energy) aimed at achieving zero carbon by 2050.

On agriculture, fertiliser will be subsidised to improve food production in the country, Sh5 billion for the fertiliser programme allocated.

On transport and infrastructure, the National Treasury achieved financial closure of two clusters of urban roads projects valued at Sh15 billion under the annuity programme.

“Due to the limited fiscal space the government has strengthened the public private partnership (PPP) framework to leverage on private sector expertise.”

Ugandan Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija tabled 52.74 trillion shillings, for FY 2023/24, an increase of 4.606 trillion shillings from the previous financial year, which was 48.134 trillion shillings.

The government set spending for the current fiscal year at Ush 48.1 trillion.

He said during this financial year, additional funding amounting to Ush 110 billion was provided for food security interventions in Government institutions with farms including the UPDF, Uganda Prisons, Ministry of Agriculture, the National Agricultural Research Organisation and the National Agricultural Genetics Resource Centre and Databank.

The other key priority areas included urgent completion of key public investments with higher multiplier effects on the attainment of NDPIII targets and the NRM 2021 – 2026 Manifesto,  Enhanced revenue mobilisation and collections.

Also full-scale operationalisation of the Parish Development Model (PDM) and Enhanced government efficiency and effectiveness through rationalisation of public expenditure, payroll audit.

Rwanda will spend slightly over Rwf5 trillion in the fiscal year 2023/24, which represents an increase of Rwf265 billion or 6 per cent compared to Rwf4.7 trillion announced in the 2022/23 revised budget.

Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana said the key priorities for the next fiscal year (2023/24) national budget will include strengthening the health system; increasing agriculture and livestock productivity; scaling up social protection coverage and improving the quality of education.

Others are creating employment opportunities through investment in public works and support to micro, small, medium and large enterprises affected by Covid-19 through the economic recovery fund and manufacture to build and recover programmes.

Also, interventions will include support for Made in Rwanda – for the growth of domestically made or manufactured products; promotion of digital technologies to improve service delivery; improving access to quality education; eradication of malnutrition and stunting and strengthening disaster preparedness and management among others.

Despite ongoing economic recovery, Rwanda is still dealing with Covid-19 pandemic effects, climate change, high inflation, and ongoing supply chain issues caused by the Russia-Ukraine war among other economic challenges.

However, the Government will continue to champion economic recovery through supporting businesses affected by Covid-19 and creating jobs.

On top of that, key investments in education, healthcare, ICT and agriculture will be at the forefront of the ongoing government effort to invest in Rwanda’s future, through the National Strategy for Transformation.

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