Ministry travel budgets hit Ksh.12.8 billion in nine months


Ministry travel budgets hit Ksh.12.8 billion in nine months

In Summary

  • The sharpest rise in spending was registered on domestic travel as costs peaked at Ksh.8.5 billion in the review period from 7.7 billion in a similar period last year while foreign travel budgets rose marginally to Ksh.4.3 billion from Ksh.4.2 billion.
  • Desired cuts in printing and advertising budgets however bore fruit as total spending to the two expenditure heads dropped to Ksh.1.3 billion from Ksh.2.2 billion.
  • The rise recurrent spending by Ministries as contained in the latest report by the Controller of Budget (COB) Margaret Nyakang’o points to the ongoing challenges to rationalize spending by government.

Travel budgets by Ministries and State departments rose by 7.6 percent in nine months to March 2020 to hit Ksh.12.8 billion.

The steady rise in travel budgets was in spite of sanctions by the National Treasury on excessive travel as the government sort to cut public spending.

The sharpest rise in spending was registered on domestic travel as costs peaked at Ksh.8.5 billion in the review period from 7.7 billion in a similar period last year while foreign travel budgets rose marginally to Ksh.4.3 billion from Ksh.4.2 billion.

Similarly, desired cuts on dispensable items such as office tea and snacks failed to materialize as the entities hospitality spending in the period topped Ksh.4.5 billion from Ksh.3.9 billion last year.

Desired cuts in printing and advertising budgets however bore fruit as total spending to the two expenditure heads dropped to Ksh.1.3 billion from Ksh.2.2 billion.

The rise recurrent spending by Ministries as contained in the latest report by the Controller of Budget (COB) Margaret Nyakang’o points to the ongoing challenges to rationalize spending by government.

After warning Ministries of painful budget cuts, Treasury Cabinet Secretary indefinitely froze all bench marking trips as he sort to contain runaway government costs.

“All bench-marking and study tours are immediately suspended until further notice,” Yatani said in a September 2019 circular.

“Delegations led by Cabinet Secretaries should not exceed four persons while those by Principal Secretaries/Chief Executives shall not exceed three members.”

The Treasury secretary has continued to pursue deeper cuts to recurrent spending inside government earning him the term ‘Mr. Austerity’ even as his efforts struggle to gather steam.

“The cuts will be brutal, sustained and without option. It is high time for us to adjust accordingly because the success of the government will depend entirely on our dignity as a country to be self sufficient in our own development priorities,” he told Ministries last year.

Efforts to tighten the screw on public spending have also seen the COB warn Ministries against delaying the submission of quarterly financial reports and the failure to report project achievements.

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani intends to close the budget deficit by partly slashing non-essential spending by government while expanding the revenue base to net higher exchequer income.

Recurrent expenditures for the year starting on July 1 have nevertheless been raised to Ksh.1.8 trillion from a revised Ksh.1.76 trillion in the fiscal year closing June 30.

Ministry travel budgets are meanwhile set to come down from the ensuing Covid-19 pandemic which has restricted and cut off both domestic and international travel.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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