President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto increased their entertainment budget by Sh422 million in the nine months preceding March 2020, defying the government’s austerity campaign.
Data from the budget controller shows that the presidency, which includes the offices of Mr. Kenyatta and Dr. Ruto, spent 1.18 billion shillings on parties and receptions during the period, up from 758.2 million dollars. shillings spent at a similar time a year earlier.
The 55.6% jump in spending comes amid austerity pressure from the Treasury to cut nonessential spending in efforts to free up money for development and essential services such as health and education.
Hospitality spending by 71 ministries, departments and state agencies (MDA) increased 18% to 4.5 billion shillings, compared to 3.8 billion shillings spent a year earlier.
At 1.18 billion shillings, the presidential entertainment budget represented a quarter of the 4.5 billion shillings spent by public offices on parties and receptions.
Other most significant holiday spending during the period was the Home Office, which fell 900 million shillings from the 1.08 billion shillings in a similar period the previous year.
The Foreign Ministry’s entertainment budget jumped 69% to 604.4 million shillings from 357 million shillings in the same period a year earlier.
The increases defy calls from the Treasury and President Kenyatta for non-essential spending cuts.
The Treasury announced new austerity measures in September of last year targeting travel, training and advertising as the state tried to reduce the waste of taxpayer dollars.
As part of these measures, the Treasury issued a directive requiring all government agencies to purchase only locally made furniture fittings.
The move comes amid the Kenya Revenue Authority’s missed tax collection target, highlighting the enormous task ahead as the state struggles with the growing budget deficit.
Exchequer statistics show that the KRA posted stable collection growth for the first three months of the year, reflecting a slowdown in business and employment that started even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic .
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