Mini Budget seeks Sh1bn for Waitiki land

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Security, the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) project and land owner Evanson Waitiki are some of the major beneficiaries of the Supplementary Budget estimates MPs have been asked to approve.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich on Monday listed the main cash recipients of the budget revisions for the current financial year, which he asked the Liaison Committee of the National Assembly to approve.

The security sector has already spent Sh7.6 billion more than it had initially been allocated, which Mr Rotich attributed to Operation Linda Boni,  aimed at flushing out Al-Shabaab from Boni Forest in Lamu County.

Mr Waitiki, who gave up his 930 acres in Likoni, Mombasa County, for squatters will be a major beneficiary after selling his land.

“As you know, this had to be subdivided and the provision of funds is to allow for the release of titles and for subdivision of the Waitiki Farm. It is going to be incurred basically as soon as we get approval because already the owner has surrendered the title and he needs to be paid,” said Mr Rotich.

The CS said with the President having presided over the release of the certificates of lease, the process is “as good as done and all Parliament needs to do is release the funds for it”.

Mr Waitiki had initially asked the government for Sh10 million per acre, which would have come to Sh9.3 billion, but President Uhuru Kenyatta was reported to have offered Sh1.1 billion.

When the land was handed over to the invaders, the government refused to state how much it had paid for it but Mombasa Woman Representative Mishi Mboko put the cost at Sh1.2 billion.

Payment of the Sh1.3 billion will put an end to a long drawn-out stand-off between Mr Waitiki and the land invaders who, with the support of Coast politicians, had refused to leave the farm.

LAPSSET PROJECT

The decision to allocate Sh1 billion to Lapsset was made in the wake of concerns that some key Vision 2030 projects had not been well funded.

“Lapsset continues to be a critical infrastructure even as we have discussions on the crude oil pipeline (with Uganda). If we were to use the northern route, obviously we’d need a port,” said Mr Rotich, adding that the opening up of the northern corridor would also have a positive impact on security.

“This project is definitely still relevant. The Sh1 billion is a commitment that we still see this as a priority,” Mr Rotich told the MPs.

Kenya’s integration strategy is to provide infrastructure, such as the ongoing construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, to link countries in the region and beyond.

He said the project would also be allocated a substantial amount in the Budget for the next financial year, while at the same time considering other options.

The CS said some of the Sh42 billion the project was supposed to cost had already been spent and that Treasury had talks with the Transport and Infrastructure ministry on how to implement the project in three phases.

In the next phase, the project would get Sh20 billion for the construction of a berth at the port, the first of the three that are planned.

Mr Rotich said the government’s finances were inadequate to pay for all development projects at the same time.

“We just have to prioritise. If actually we all agree and say let’s slow down on energy and roads and then we go on  with Lapsset, there would be no problem with that,” said Mr Rotich.

GOVERNMENT AIMS

Some Sh10.9 billion will go into salaries, which Mr Rotich said would cater for the 10,000 policemen the government aims to have hired before next year’s elections.

The war against corruption will get a Sh2.7-billion boost, the Higher Education Loans Board Sh1.5 billion, programmes to take care of the effects of El Nino Sh1.4 billion and the Anti-Doping Agency and preparations for the World Youth Championships Sh1 billion.

Kenya Airways will also benefit from a Sh20 billion loan the Government has taken from the African Export Import Bank.

An analysis of the estimates by the Parliamentary Budget Office shows that the Presidency will get an additional Sh1.2 billion and the Department of Infrastructure Sh11.6 billion.

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