Uhuru foreign travel costs fell 66pc during presidential polls
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto spending on foreign travel dropped 66 per cent to Sh44 million in the six months to December.
This was the period when Kenya had a prolonged and volatile election that started ahead of the August 8 General Election and continued to the end of November when President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner after the repeat October presidential vote.
Data from the Controller of Budget shows the Presidency, which comprises the offices of the President and the Deputy President, spent Sh44 million on foreign travel in the first half of the year compared to the Sh130 million spent a year prior.
Critics argued that the many trips abroad by Mr Kenyatta in the two years of his first term ran the risk of setting the tone for other public officials to waste public funds on foreign travels.
During his travels, Mr Kenyatta is usually accompanied by large delegations, including his security detail and senior government officials who draw hefty sums in travelling allowances.
State House has been forced to defend Mr Kenyatta’s frequent trips abroad, arguing that the majority of the travels have the potential to attract mega investments that would help lift the country’s fortunes and generate more employment opportunities.
The drop Sh86 million drop in spending on foreign travel is also linked to the campaign period when the Presidency focused more on domestic travel to woo voters.
Mr Kenyatta stepped up campaigning for the August 8 election, underlined by the Sh251 million rise in the domestic travel for the Presidency during the period.
Taxpayers paid Sh432.5 million on domestic travel in the year, compared to the Sh181.6 million the previous year.
Expenditure on foreign travel for the 50 state ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) dropped 65 per cent to Sh1.2 billion compared to the Sh3.4 billion spent a year prior.
The Treasury directed accounting officers in all ministries to cut non-essential budget such as conferencing, travel and motor vehicle maintenance to the bare minimum in efforts to free funds for projects in a business environment where State income was trailing targets.
The Treasury had directed that spending on non-essential items should be cut by up to 30 per cent.