The former National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has been appointed as the Senior Advisor on Fiscal Affairs and Budget Policy.
Rotich’s appointment comes on the heels of his acquittal in the Kimwarer and Arror dams scandal, a case that had led to his resignation as the treasury CS during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s tenure.
The scandal, which had cast a shadow over Rotich’s career, revolved around alleged breaches under procurement and public finance management laws.
However, the court dropped the charges after finding that the prosecution had failed to link Rotich to any specific violations.
Rotich, President Ruto’s Ally
Rotich resigned from the National Treasury post as CS on January 14, 2020, and he was succeeded by Ukur Yatani.
Despite the controversy, Rotich has managed to maintain strong political ties and is said to be among the closest allies of President William Ruto.
As the Senior Advisor on Fiscal Affairs and Budget Policy, Rotich will have the opportunity to leverage his experience and expertise to shape fiscal policies and strategies in Kenya at a time when the country is faced with a widened fiscal deficit of 5.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Can Rotich Help Salvage the Weakening Shilling?
Kenya raised its budget deficit forecast for the 2023/24 (July-June) financial year from 4.4%.
The wider projection was due to the weakening of the Kenyan shilling against the dollar, according to the sitting Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u, which drove up the projected amount of cash required to repay foreign debts during the period.
President Ruto’s administration had slashed the budget deficit sharply in June last year when it first presented it to parliament, as it sought to reassure markets that it was serious about reining in ballooning debt.
But headwinds in local currency which is down 22% against the dollar this year so far, have frustrated that effort.
It remains to be seen how Rotich’s appointment will influence the fiscal landscape and what it signifies for the future of public finance management in Kenya.