Wednesday, 30 April 2008 11:05 UK
BBC News Online

Kenya cash shortfall over cabinet

The allegations could cloud the new coalition government

Kenya needs to find another $300m to pay for the expanded coalition cabinet formed after a power-sharing deal.

Finance Minister Amos Kimunya says he may be forced to shift funding from vital programmes like resettling the displaced to pay for new ministries.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga named a 42-member cabinet this month despite protests from civil society and tax payers.

The two leaders agreed to share power after disputed presidential elections.

Some 1,500 people died and another 600,000 were displaced during violence after the poll.

Kenyan politicians are among the world's best paid MPs - each taking home about $17,000 in salaries and allowances each month.

The power-sharing agreement between President Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) and Mr Odinga's ODM party required they share power on a 50-50 basis.

As a result, the two leaders were forced to create new portfolios and hive others from the existing ones. At least 40% of the 222 elected MPs are now ministers and deputy ministers.

Civil society groups complained that the cabinet - the largest in Kenyan history - will be a heavy burden to taxpayers already hit by high commodity prices.

But Prime Minister Odinga defended the size, saying they had to ensure all regions in the country got fair representation in government as a first stage to heal the deeply divided nation.

Mr Kimunya told parliament that despite shifting funds from existing programmes to fund the $500m cost of the expanded government, he still has to find another $300m.

This is required to fund priority programmes, which include resettling displaced families.

Estimates show that key ministries - among them Medical Services, Roads, Education and Finance - have had their budgets slashed to accommodate the increased government expenditure.