Sustain ban on needless foreign trips by officials

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Sustain ban on needless foreign trips by officials


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Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • A new report by the Controller of Budget’s office shows that top officials spent Sh1 billion on travels abroad between July and December last year, compared with Sh3.18 billion in a similar period a year earlier.
  • This amount of savings in just six months is substantial and speaks volumes about the depth of wastage of public funds by some officials.

That foreign travel expenditure by top government officials dropped by Sh2.18 billion in the six months to December due to austerity and restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus is good news for the economy and taxpayers.

A new report by the Controller of Budget’s office shows that top officials spent Sh1 billion on travels abroad between July and December last year, compared with Sh3.18 billion in a similar period a year earlier.

This amount of savings in just six months is substantial and speaks volumes about the depth of wastage of public funds by some officials.

The State has a perfect opportunity to permanently review its foreign travel policy based on this development and spare taxpayers the unnecessary burden by officials out to make merry and line up their pockets with allowances.

The government should audit its activities abroad over the six months to December last year and weed out all the non-essential trips.

Except for diplomacy and trade and investment missions, most of the foreign travels by State officials are needless. It is needless ferrying thousands of State officials to cities around the world for work that can be handled by Kenya’s foreign missions in those countries.

The economy is in dire state due to the fallout of the pandemic and it will take many years before normalcy is restored. This means any acts of extravagance in public expenditure must be avoided at all costs and money only pumped into essential programmes.

Implementing austerity measures, however, requires deep political resolve because those that have over the years benefited from the multi-billion shilling non-essential travels are certain to resist any restrictions that would prevent them from making money through allowances.

Several past attempts to limit travel by officials have yielded little fruit due to weak enforcement of directives. This must change. Any officials found defying austerity measures should be reprimanded and forced to reimburse the money spent on non-essential travel.

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