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KENYA’S GOVERNMENT AND COUNTY SPENDING – WHAT ARE THE PRIORITIES?

Mombasa was one of the counties that most overspent its travel budget

MONEY FOR TRAVEL – NO MONEY FOR WORKERS AND HOSPITALS

The essential work of Kenya’s county-level governments is largely at a standstill as the Treasury has failed to release funds to the devolved county administrations. Meanwhile, there’s good news for politicians and officials (but not for the hard-pressed Kenyan taxpayer): county and national spending on foreign and local travel for elected representatives and civil servants has ballooned to Sh27 billion to the year ending June 30, 2017.

Four months after they were sworn in County Governors are up in arms (when they’re not up in First Class cabins flying on exotic trips) that they are unable to pay workers and contractors, buy medicines, or fund hospitals and dispensaries because the money to do so has not been released from the central government.

Spending by the counties now amounts to more than Sh35 billion per year with the biggest spenders being the counties of Mombasa (sh3.9 billion), Turkana (Sh2.9 billion) and Nakuru (Sh2.79 billion).

Kenya’s Treasury blames the problem on an administrative hitch involving the disbursement schedule regional funding and the new County Allocation Revenue Bill but say the matter has now been resolved.

POLITICIANS AND OFFICIALS FLYING HIGH

No such problems afflict Kenya’s nationally and locally elected politicians and civil servants however.

Agnes Odhiambo, the Controller of Budget, has revealed in a report that spending by national and county government on local and foreign travel had increased to Sh27.7 billion per annum to the end of June, an increase of Sh2.78 billion on the year compared with a total of Sh24.9 billion for the same period in 2016.

The increase in travel spending by state and county representatives is all the more galling given that the Treasury had called for a cut in non-essential travel costs of 30 percent to release money to support local businesses.

To put it in perspective the Sh27.7 billion spent on travel is as much as it cost to build the Thika Road Superhighway and much more than the Sh8.1 billion the government spent on improving primary schools, or the Sh14 billion spent on housing.

The counties that most overshot their travel budgets were Nakuru, Tans Nzoia, West Pokot, Migori Baringo and Kisii.

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