彩神马Roundup: Kenya banks on tax measures to fund 30 bln USD budget

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NAIROBI, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Thursday presented a 3.02 trillion shillings (200 billion U.S. dollars) budget for 2019/2020 fiscal year with a raft of austerity and tax measures intended to fund the budget.

National Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich said the budget for the next financial year lays a strong foundation for achieving development plan dubbed the Big Four agenda on affordable housing, manufacturing, food security and universal health care.

"I have allocated approximately 4.5 billion dollars to the "Big Four" Plan drivers and their enabling sectors," Rotich said in parliament.

He imposed several taxes on leisure spending and proposed to cut down on non-essential spending in government and thus imposed a 10 percent excise duty on betting stakes and taxes on alcoholic drinks and cigarettes.

Rotich said the government would use more efficient cost-cutting approaches, including the use of electronic cards for all public officers travelling within and outside the country.

The cards, he said, will be pre-loaded with subsistence allowance to be expended by officers travelling on official duty on eligible expenditures only. He also cut down on leasing office space and cleansing the wage bill to weed out ghost workers.

"We are laying a firm foundation for accelerated growth and shared prosperity," Rotich said, noting that the total programmed spending under the budget amounts to 28 billion dollars.

He said administrative measures to enhance revenue collection and seal revenue loopholes a number of initiatives were underway, including, sustaining the fight against graft as well as illicit and counterfeit trade that was launched in 2018.

Rotich also said the government will be taking steps to ensure that it manages the country's mammoth 54 billion dollars debt effectively.

Rotich said that the government continues to stay focused on providing decent and affordable housing for citizens.

He allocated 105 million dollars to cater for social housing and construction of affordable housing units, including housing Units for the Police and Kenya Prison.

He revealed that with the recent establishment of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC), Kenyans will now access affordable mortgage loans for purposes of acquiring homes.

Rotich said that in order to enhance food and nutrition security and support farmers, government is reforming its agricultural policies and regulations as well as subsidies to farmers with a view to make them efficient and less prone to rent seeking.

The 2019/20 budget also sets aside 20 million dollars for the National Value Chain Support Programme and 200 million dollars for setting up the Coffee Cherry Revolving Fund to implement prioritized reforms in the coffee sub-sector.

"In the coming financial year, coffee farmers across the country will be able to access the Cherry Advance at a modest interest rate of 3 percent," Rotich added.

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