Uhuru, Ruto foreign trips budget falls 79pc after presidential vote
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, have reduced their appetite for foreign travel, with their budget dropping 79 per cent to Sh36.5 million in the nine months to March.
Data from the Controller of Budget shows the Presidency, which comprises the offices of the President and the Deputy President, cut spending in the period by Sh143.7 million from the Sh180.2 million spent a year prior.
This is the time Kenya had a prolonged and volatile election that started ahead of the August 8 General Election and continued to the end of November following repeat presidential polls in October.
The October polls were ordered by the Supreme Court after it nullified the August 8 presidential vote over irregularities.
Mr Kenyatta’s frequent foreign trips in the two years of first term in office had attracted debate with critics saying it ran the risk of setting the tone for other public officials to waste public funds on foreign travels.
During his travels, the President is usually accompanied by large delegations, including his security detail and senior government officials who draw hefty sums in travelling allowances.
State House has in the past 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 79 per cent drop in foreign travel budget is the first cut since Mr Kenyatta took office in April 2013 when the Presidency splashed Sh75.9 million in trips outside the country.
The budget on foreign travel has been on a steady upward trajectory ever since. In the nine months to March 2016, the Presidency spent Sh167.5 million on foreign travel, which was higher than the Sh138.5 million spent at a similar period the previous year.
The Sh143.7 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.
Expenditure on foreign travel for the 65 state ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) dropped 33 per cent to Sh3.07 billion compared to the Sh4.6 billion spent a year prior, a sign that governments austerity efforts are beginning to bear fruits.
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.