Cost of Kenya’s Somalia incursion hits Sh26 billion

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Kenya’s incursion into neighbouring Somalia has consumed more than Sh25 billion whose reimbursement Nairobi is urgently seeking to ease its budgetary constraints.

Kenya is looking up to the United Nations to reimburse the money spent by its defence forces – now in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission (Amisom) in the coming months, having factored it in the Budget.

Amisom, comprising Burundi, Uganda, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenyan forces, is backed by the UN but Kenya, which was the last to join the stabilisation force, has only received minimum external financial support for its contribution.

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The Treasury has included the Sh26.8 billion that the Kenyan Defence Forces have so far spent in the 2013 budget review and outlook paper, meaning it expects the reimbursement to be made in the coming months.

Nairobi made a similar provision for the payment of Sh18.9 billion in the last  financial year but was paid only Sh5.4 billion, leaving a Sh13.1 billion deficit.

Delay in reimbursement of the money has been linked to UN’s insistence on proper verification of Kenya’s claims that are yet to be done, culminating in budgetary pressures with the continued build-up of public expenditure obligations.

“Programme grants (Amisom reimbursements) amounted to Sh5.8 billion against a revised target of 18.9 billion, recording a shortfall of Sh13.1 billion,” the Treasury says in the report dated September 2013.

The Sh26.8 billion demand means Kenya has spent an additional Sh13 billion since it made the reimbursement demand last year.

The government expects its revenues, including the Amisom refund, to rise from this year’s Sh1.1 trillion to Sh1.268 trillion next year, representing an increase of 14.5 per cent.

Expenditure is also expected to grow from Sh1.28 trillion to Sh1.54 trillion next financial year, leaving a deficit of Sh278 billion. The country’s public debt is also set to continue rising in line with the Treasury’s borrowing plan.

The mismatch between revenue and expenditure has become the biggest obstacle to the planned execution of capital extensive projects such as the offer of free maternity care and provision of laptops to Class One pupils in line with President Kenyatta’s election promises.

Kenya launched an incursion into Somalia in response to incessant attacks and kidnappings by Al-Shabaab militants within its territory. Kenya formally sent 4,660 of its soldiers to Somalia in October 2011.

A year later, the UN Security Council, gave Kenya the green light to join Amisom, a decision that meant it would not bear the full costs of the incursion.

“We entered Somalia with the full cost to taxpayers but with Amisom, Kenyans will no longer be required to pay for our stay in Somalia,” the Chief of Kenya Defence Forces General Julius Karangi told a parliamentary committee last year.

-standardmedia.co.ke

KDF soldiers celebrate outside Kismayo University after they took control from Al-Shabaab milititants in  2012. Kenya is now seeking cash from the UN to ease budgetary pressures. FILE

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