President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto once again increased their travel expenditure by 32 percent or Sh36 million in the first three months of this financial year.
Latest data from the Controller of Budget (CoB) shows the Presidency which comprises the offices of the President and the Deputy President spent Sh147.4 million in the period from Sh111.9 million spent a year earlier.
This comes amid the Treasury’s move to freeze new development projects, instituting budget cuts and a freeze on hiring, to tame State expenditure.
The Presidency’s foreign travel budget nearly doubled to Sh30.4 million in the three months to September from Sh16.8 million in a similar period last year.
It fell by Sh41.3 million to Sh19 million in the three months to September in 2017 when the Presidency focused more on domestic travel to campaign for votes.
Mr Kenyatta’s frequent foreign trips in the two years of his first term in office had attracted debate, with critics saying it ran the risk of setting the tone for other public officials to spend 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 travel 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 employment opportunities.
Taxpayers forked out Sh117 million on domestic travel the first quarter of the year, compared to the Sh95.1 million the previous year.
Expenditure on travel for the State ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) increased 25 percent to Sh3.5 billion compared to the Sh2.8 billion spent a year before.
The Treasury this year announced a new round of budget cuts on non-essential items like trips, training and car expenses. Critics however view the move as cosmetic in terms of delivering an affordable budget.
Budget Review Outlook Paper published by the Treasury shows it only managed to save Sh149 billion by mostly cutting on pension, operations and maintenance.