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Citizen Weekly

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

UNIVERSITIES HIDING BILLIONS COLLECTED FOM STUDENTS



Treasury secretary Henry Rotich has accused public universities of failing to declare the billions of internally generated cash.
The Quarterly Economic and Budgetary Review covering the quarter to September shows that collections of ministerial Appropriations-in-Aid (AIA) or internally generated funds recorded an under-performance of Sh9 billion.
“The AIA underperformance reflects a persistent problem, especially in universities collections, which is not adequately captured in the ministry’s expenditure return,” said Mr Rotich in the budget review presented to Parliament last week.
The AIA, which stood at Sh13.8 billion against a target of Sh22.9 billion, is built from funds raised from fuel levy and revenues generated by public universities.
The law requires State agencies and ministries to first deposit their internal collections in the government’s main account before use.
The indictment of the varsities comes in a period that has seen the institutions raise billions of shillings from increased students intake, aided by a rising number of self-sponsored students.
The number of students enrolled in universities grew 34 per cent last year, buoyed by the approval of new degree courses and the setting up of new universities.
Official data shows the population of students in public universities has doubled over the past four years to 276,349 learners last year, from 139,740 in 2010.
This is set to add pressure on the government to create new jobs for the graduates whose number stood at 55,000 in 2002.
The high enrolment is also putting pressure on university facilities at a time the institutions are struggling to raise cash to upgrade their units.
The government is mulling increasing university fees to offer the institutions the additional cash they need.
Students currently pay Sh26,000 fee has remained little changed from 1995.
The Education ministry has plans to sponsor students in private universities to ease the burden on public varsities.
The government was expecting the universities to raise Sh17 billion from students in the current financial year ending June.
The University of Nairobi was expected to raise Sh4.7 billion, Kenyatta University (Sh2.5 billion), Jomo Kenyatta (Sh1.9 billion) and Moi University (Sh1.6 billion).
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Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo has already raised the alarm over failure by several ministries and agencies to account for their collections.
Non-remittance of funds could open loopholes through which billions of taxpayers’ funds are lost or mismanaged.
This also comes at a time when the Kenya Revenue Authority missed tax revenue collection targets by Sh17 billion, putting uncertainty on the government budgetary spending projections.
The taxman attributed the performance, which represents a six per cent drop from a target of Sh267.0 billion, to an increase in non-taxable imports.
The authority collected Sh241.2 billion in the first quarter of 2014/15. It faces a daunting task of raising more than Sh1 trillion to finance the Budget.
Already, Treasury has suspended a number of projects such as implementation of the new Civil Servants Pension Scheme, and cut down on wasteful spending, especially on foreign travel and hospitality.
Treasury data shows that as at the end of September, total revenue collection, including AIA, was below the target by Sh29.4 billion.