Kenyans pay taxes—and are in the next financial year expected to raise up to Sh3 trillion—in the hope that the money they raise is spent prudently to address their key concerns and pain points.
They also expect Parliament, which is tasked with the oversight role, to lead from the front to ensure every coin is well spent.
The induction of MPs at PrideInn Paradise Beach Resort, Convention and Spa in Mombasa flies in the face of this. While the National Assembly is in the luxurious hotel on the Mombasa-Malindi highway, their Senate colleagues got a sweeter deal as at least 46 went to Dar es Salaam for a seminar and the other 21, the committee chairpersons, to Sarova Whitesands.
The retreats come just months after the National Treasury released a schedule showing the entire budget on foreign travel, training and other non-essential items had been cut in President William Ruto’s Sh300 billion austerity plan in a bid to free up more cash for critical projects.
These belt-tightening measures cannot be applied selectively, with the leaders, who should have the biggest responsibility to ensure the success of these efforts, splurging millions of shillings in seminars at top hotels.
Kenya has a myriad of financially strained government-owned facilities, including the Kenya School of Government, with boarding and conference amenities that would have served the MPs well and, thus, saved the taxpayer a few coins in these hard times. Holding the retreats within Nairobi, and in government facilities, would have also saved Kenyans the cost of expensive air travel.
Paying taxes is a patriotic duty but it should not be so that leaders can go on lavish junkets in expensive hotels. All of us must tighten our belts, and MPs should lead from the front.