Tough Time For Public universities As Government Funding Hits Snag.
The government has failed to allocate Sh74 billion to stabilize public universities, resulting in another difficult year.
More job losses are possible as a result of the massive budget deficit.
A number of universities are already burdened by massive debt, which has hampered operations.
Documents tabled in Parliament by University Education PS Simon Nabukwesi revealed that only Sh72.3 billion of the Sh167.8 billion requested was allocated.
University administrators are struggling to keep their institutions afloat in the face of a massive funding gap. Moi University and Egerton University both admitted to having more than Sh5 billion in debt last year.
The same was true for Kenyatta University, which claimed to owe the Kenya Revenue Authority and its suppliers more than Sh5.6 billion.
Furthermore, the university stated that it was running a Sh1.3 billion deficit. Kenyatta University’s situation was so dire that the KRA froze its accounts due to unpaid taxes totaling Sh2 billion.
Massive funding gaps of about Sh54 billion triggered the university crisis last year. Universities required Sh149 billion in the fiscal year 2021-22 but were only allocated Sh95 billion (inclusive of Sh4.3 billion infrastructure funds).
The gap widens to Sh74 billion in 2022-23, indicating difficult times for higher education institutions.
Nabukwesi stated in his presentation to the National Assembly Education Committee that most universities are unable to meet statutory obligations.
He stated that they are unable to remit deductions to KRA or pay pensions or Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
Nabukwesi explained that as of June 30, 2021, the outstanding bills total Sh42.3 billion. However, the bills have been piling up on a monthly basis since then.
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In terms of research and innovation, Nabukwesi stated that only Sh920 million has been allocated out of a total request of Sh2.6 billion.
Low research funding continues to impede the implementation of approved projects. Concerns have grown that unfinished projects in public universities, which totaled Sh52.8 billion by 2020, would face penalties.