Kenya’s parliament has approved Ksh 78.14 billion ($769.85 million) in extra spending requested by the Treasury in its revised budget for the 2019/20 financial year.
The finance ministry had asked for an additional Ksh 86.60 billion, or a 3% rise in spending for roads, health, and projects to support the manufacturing sector, but parliament reduced the additional funds.
The budget deficit for this July-June financial year is set at 6.3% of GDP, slightly higher than the original target of 5.9%, reflecting growing expenditure requirements for the government and weaker revenue collection.
Lawmakers say they will start preparing a bill for the establishment of an independent debt management office to address concerns about rising debt levels.
With increased public borrowing, especially from China, in recent years for projects such as a new railway line linking the port of Mombasa with the hinterland, the country’s growing debt stock has raised concerns among the public.
The World Bank said in late October that total public debt stood at 62.3% of GDP in June.
When President Uhuru Kenyatta came to power in 2013, total public debt stood at about 42% of GDP. The government has justified the higher borrowing, saying it is required for infrastructure improvements.