Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and his wife are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Sh187 billion mini budget tabled in Parliament last week, with allocations to their offices for the first time overtaking those of the President and the First Lady.
The Treasury increased the budget of the Deputy President’s office by Sh759.4 million to Sh4.29 billion, making it the single-biggest spender in the Presidency.
This is nearly Sh300 million more than the Sh4 billion allocated to the executive office of the President.
The allocation to the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary is unchanged at Sh1.19 billion in the supplementary budget that cut spending for President William Ruto’s office by Sh304 million.
Cumulatively, the budget of the Office of the Deputy President rises to Sh4.2 billion from Sh3.8 billion in the originally approved budget and includes Sh400.4 million in development spending and Sh3.8 billion in recurrent spending.
The Treasury has attributed that the increase in the recurrent budget of Mr Gachagua’s office to additional expenditures on the basic salaries of permanent employees, higher allowances, training expenses, hospitality supplies and services and domestic travel on subsistence and other transportation costs.
The rise in the development spending is on account of enhanced operations and maintenance and provision for refurbishment of the boardroom, said the Treasury.
The other winners in the mini-budget are the offices of the spouses to the President and the Deputy President.
The Spouse to the Deputy President’s office also received an additional Sh424.8 million, more than doubling its budget to Sh717.6 million for the current financial year.
This also means that the Deputy President’s spouse Dorcas Rigathi's budget has also overtaken that of First Lady Rachel Ruto. The latter’s budget was increased by Sh149 million to Sh593.9 million.
While spending by the President’s office is set for a downward reset, the State House budget is set to move higher by Sh2.4 billion to Sh9.7 billion.
The bulk of the increase in the State House budget covers additional recurrent funding for domestic travel, basic salaries and wages, hospitality and the purchase of vehicles at State House Nairobi.
Under development, the State House budget rises by Sh450 million and covers spending for general maintenance works at State House Nairobi, Eldoret State Lounge and State House Sagana, and the refurbishment of buildings at the Nakuru and Kisumu State Houses.
On Thursday last week, President William Ruto hinted at the slash to the budget set aside for his office, noting funds freed up would be deployed to meet essential needs.
“I am going to adjust my budget again. I will knock off a few things so that I can find Sh500 million to start the manufacture of devices for use by children with special needs. [To MPs] agree to approve the proposal to find the Sh500 million. Ensure to approve it,” he said at the Kenya Institute for Special Education where he flagged off vehicles to the counties for use by education officials.
The President was responding to public criticism over 38 foreign trips he has taken since September 2022 when he took office.
The reduction in spending by the Executive Office of the President includes Sh16.1 million in foreign travel expenditure.
Dr Ruto on Sunday continued to defend the many trips he has made abroad in the past one year, saying they have been critical in securing job opportunities for Kenyans and bilateral trade agreements for the country.
"As the chief agent and chief ambassador of our country, these foreign trips, that people are making noise about, are crucial because we are able to look for opportunities for Kenyans," the President said in Eldoret.
"I was in Saudi and in three weeks’ time, we will be signing an agreement with Saudi Arabia. I was there and we were informed there are opportunities for 350,000 Kenyans."
Kenya, he said, will also soon sign an agreement with the EU parliament to unlock markets for farm produce in the 27 EU countries. He said that the EU parliament president is scheduled to visit Kenya soon to sign the bilateral agreement.
"China has agreed to open the market for tea, macadamia and avocado, so I want the farmers to align," he said.