unfunded-promisesThe two leading candidates in Kenya’s forthcoming presidential elections have at last released something resembling policies, but unfortunately the policies of both candidates concentrate on spending plenty of money rather than on how the money will be raised. Kenya is already in a difficult financial position, with this year’s revenue falling well short of target and expenditure considerably exceeding target.

Apart from the problem of the deficit, the incoming government will have to fund the 47 new county governments specified in the new Constitution, each of which will be anxious to have money to spend. The next president will have a job that would stretch the capacity of the most able economist, facing the need to rein in spending sufficiently to assuage the anxiety of lenders while avoiding policies which might curb economic growth.

The past six years have seen little reduction in the poverty rate in Kenya, with the poverty level hovering around 45%. Something needs to be done to provide more people with an economic pathway out of poverty. One presidential candidate proposes a free national health insurance scheme and cash handouts for orphans and the elderly; the other proposes business tax cuts and free milk for all school children; neither says where the funding will come from.

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