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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,24TH JULY 2018-Chief Justice David Maraga has lamented that the abruptly budget cuts will result to halting of 70 ongoing court modernization and construction projects .
Addressing the press at the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice expressed disappointment at the unilateral decision to reduce Judiciary’s allocation despite the judicature having requested a total of Sh31.3 billion during the budget-making process.
“When Parliament passed the Appropriation Act, the Judiciary’s total budget allocation was further reduced to Sh14.5 billion. Out of this, the development budget from the government is only Sh50 million, compared to Sh2.6 billion allocated to the Judiciary in the 2014/15 Financial Year,” Maraga drew comparison.
Maraga states that the downward revision of Judiciary funding capped at Sh17.3 billion in the 2018/19 national budgetary policy statement to Sh14.5 billion in the Appropriation Act had left the Judiciary with only Sh50 million in development budget.
The Chief Justice said as a consequence of the budget cut, 41 government-funded projects will stall with another 29 funded by the World Bank facing similar fate.
Maraga expressed frustration with the National Treasury’s unwillingness to approve an extension of World Bank loan facility extended to the Judiciary upon which 29 ongoing projects are reliant set to end in December this year.
“The government’s cut in the Judiciary Budget is made worse by the imminent expiry of the Judicial Performance Improvement Project (JPIP), the Sh11.5 billion World Bank loan facility through which many of the Judiciary projects have been funded,” he noted.
Government-funded projects would require Sh1.9 billion to be concluded.
These include a Sh330 million Marsabit Law Courts construction, Sh315 million Kabarnet Law Courts building and Sh316 million project at the Homa Bay Law Courts.
“We had planned to start new constructions of the Court of Appeal premises at Upper Hill and Court complexes in Meru and Kisii. These are now out of question,” he said.
The JSC will also be compelled to make do with Sh364 million, down from Sh891 million it had requested.
Maraga has warned that budgetary constraints could negatively impact on the country’s economic performance noting that a swift justice system was critical to enhancing investor confidence in the economy.
“The Judiciary exists not for its own sake but to serve the common person by ensuring the efficient administration of justice and facilitating smooth commercial interactions between business entities,” he said.
“That is why, for example, reforms in the Judiciary have such a positive impact for Kenya in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. There just can’t be a good enough reason to impede the work of the Judiciary through budgetary strangulation,” Maraga cautioned.