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Kenya Government Embargoes Overseas Trips, Trainings in Bid to Save Budget

GBR Team 26/09/2019

Kenya’s Treasury has issued a government-wide circular banning overseas trainings for government officers and placing severe restrictions on overseas travels, newspaper advertising and purchase of motor vehicles in a move to save billions from the Sh3.2 trillion (US$30billion) national budget.

The spending cuts issued by the acting Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury, Ukuru Yattani on 25 September, also target airtime and newspapers issued to government officers, rental of office space, and purchase of furniture.

The memo cites mounting public debt and falling revenues for the austerity measures aimed at the country’s Sh1.224 trillion ($12bn) recurrent budget.

“The Guidelines apply to all MDAs in the National Government, Judiciary, Parliament, Independent Offices and Commissions,” Circular No. 14B reads.

Overseas travels and trainings in particular have cost huge budgets for the government with Parliament alone set to gobble Sh3.45bn in foreign trips and upkeep.

“The number of government officers in government delegations should be minimized,” the memo reads. “..All benchmarking and study tours are immediately suspended until further notice.”

Instead, officers are asked to make use of the internet and the country’s foreign missions abroad to transact government business.

Ministries are directed to also use their websites to publicize and advertise their strategic plans and cut on use of newspaper supplements for the same.

Airtime issued to government officers is to be cut by 70 per cent while spending on newspapers for staff is to be slashed by 75 per cent.

Top Recurrent Spenders in Government

Kenya’s Recurrent Expenditure budget for the 2019/2020 financial year is estimated at Sh1.224tr compared to Sh1.144tr over the previous year’s budget a seven per cent increase.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) gorges Sh252 billion to run its nearly 300,000 strong staff an increase from the Sh214bn it used up last year.

The other top ten spenders include the State Departments for Interior at Sh129bn, University Education Sh108bn, Defense Sh101bn, Early and Basic Education Sh90bn and Treasury Sh78bn.

Others are Infrastructure Sh61bn, Health Sh58bn, National Intelligence Service Sh37bn, Prisons at Sh26bn and National Assembly at Sh23bn.

Purchase of Motor Vehicles

Only Sh355m is earmarked for purchase of new vehicles in this year’s budget compared to Sh993m spent on the same last year.

The drop is mainly owing to big purchases made last year by State House Nairobi (Sh163m), Department of Immigration Sh85m, Office of the President headquarters Sh59m and Ministry of Lands Sh30m.

Top spenders at Sh30m each this year are set to be the Ministry of Planning, ICT and the Ministry of Transport’s Air Accident Investigations unit.

Retired President Kibaki to get Sh28m for new vehicles on top of the Sh28m which was allocated last year while retired President Moi is to spend Sh25m on the same. State House will also spend another Sh20m on buying new cars this year.

Over Sh90m of the remaining amount is to be spent by Kenya’s foreign missions to purchase vehicles.

Newspaper Adverts and Supplements

Set to be hit by the budget cuts is government advertising particularly print advertising in the form of newspaper supplements where ministries and parastatals publish strategic visions, milestones and project launch notices.

These run into billions.

At Sh390m, the State Department for Interior was the largest spender last year on the NIIMS project which burnt Sh382m on its own.

This story is being updated