Uhuru’s Big 4 fades in the background at the start of final stretch

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy presented by the four pillar economic agenda-the Big 4 will likely fall short of the mark when the Jubilee administration ends its second term in August next year.

On Thursday, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani is expected to include the allocation of a mere Ksh.135 billion to the ‘Big 4’ projects in the final full year of implementation.

In a report highlighting the 2021/22 budget, the Parliament Budget Office (PBO) gives a scathing assessment of the government’s economic transformation agenda and all buts rule out the attainment of outlined targets.

“It is observed however that the big four agenda does not appear to have much prominence in the budget. Other than an indication that it has been allocated Ksh. 135 billion in the next financial year, there is no further discussion or how the government will ensure that at least a certain percentage of the targets are met,” reads part of the PBO report.

“It is worth noting that budgetary allocations towards big four projects tend to be adjusted downwards during the supplementary budget. There hasn’t been any real commitment towards implementation of the big four agenda.”

In raising the share of the manufacturing sector as a percentage of the economy to at least 15 per cent, the share of manufacturing has shrunk to single digits in the past four years.

This is as key infrastructure projects anchoring the appraisal of the sector such as the modernization of cotton ginneries slowdown.

At the same time, local manufacturers have lamented the high cost of doing business including electricity costs with many mulling closing shop and relocating from Kenya.

The enhancement of food and nutrition security is meanwhile yet to mark notable gains with irrigation projects such as Galana Kulalu ending in an anti-climax.

On providing universal health coverage, issues surrounding the governance and structure of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) are yet to be resolved while initiatives to equip hospitals with specialized equipment such as the Managed Equipment Service (MES) have run into hurdles.

The PBO finally cites the sluggish delivery of the affordable housing plan which has only handed over 1370 housing units represented by Ngara’s Park Road project in Nairobi out of a target of 500,000 units by next year.

Economist David-Nashon Wamwayi agrees with the scathing assessment of Big 4 projects even as he cites disruptions brought by the COVID-19 agenda.

“We are not even half-way done in achieving the objectives.The economy was nevertheless disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the government to re-allocate resources and re plan,” he said.

“Apart from the Big-4 Agenda being a Jubilee administration achievement. It still has to fit within the new realities.”

Nevertheless, Wamwayi credits the government for preempting priority spending to areas such as health, prior to the onset of the pandemic.

As time runs out on the attainment of the Big 4, David King’oo an economic analyst with the 14F Consulting Group says its time for the President to ‘move on’.

“President Kenyatta will have a difficult time leaving a legacy premised on the Big 4. He should just focus on different priorities such as stabilizing the economy from effects of the pandemic. The Big 4 Agenda now sits in the past,” he said.

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