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Kenyans are not getting value for tax: World Bank

Kenyans footing in the streets of Nairobi

The newly developed report argues that countries running similar budgets have achieved more than Kenya. But more underlies as to why.

In the latest analysis of Kenya’s public expenditure, the World Bank says weaknesses in project selection; procurement planning and implementation delays are behind the relatively low public investment outcomes.

Despite an upgrade in development spending, public investment remains low relative to peer countries. There is scope for improvement on outcomes realized, relative to inputs in terms of public spending in education, health and physical infrastructure.

It now wants the government to do a sector-by-sector deep-dive analysis to quantify exact amounts of Budget allocations that could be saved and potentially re-allocated to other projects to maximize the value for taxpayers.

The report says that Kenya spends about 20% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to achieve just 0.17% growth in GDP per capita, a measure of how much each citizen would get if a country’s wealth is distributed equally.

This is lower compared to Israel at the frontier that spends almost similar, 20 percent of GDP, and gets a 12.2% growth in per capita GDP.

This means that the Sh701 billion which Kenya has lined up to spend on development in the current financial year may not go the same length to improve the lives of Kenyans as it would for a similar amount spent for Israeli citizens.

For instance, the report says, many countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria with similar levels of per student spending as Kenya, have achieved higher completion rates in secondary schools compared to Kenya.

A good comparison is the cross-country between spending per secondary student in per capita GDP percentage terms, and secondary completion rates showing, that given what Kenya spends, there is room to obtain higher outcomes in terms of secondary school completion rates.

This, suggests that Kenya’s education outcomes could be improved at the current level of spending or alternatively spend less and achieve levels of education equal to what countries like Ecuador have.

The trend also plays out in the health sector where Kenya’s infant survival per 1,000 live births is lower when compared to that of other countries with similar public health expenditure per person.

The report further notes that there is room for efficiency gains in terms of infant survival per 1,000 live births, where Kenya records high infant mortality rates relative to Bangladesh, even though both countries spend about the same amount in public health expenditure per capita.

Kenya’s race to spend money to connect people to electricity, has also been cited as not achieving much when compared to other lower-middle-income economies with comparable levels of public investment.

Senegal, Namibia and South Africa are cited as countries that have achieved high access to electricity despite spending way below what Kenya does.

According to the World Bank, Kenya should build staff capacity in project appraisal, selection, planning, budgeting and execution across all levels of government.

By Tabitha Muthoni, Producer at Metropol TV

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