Bomet allocates Sh5 million for presidential visits

Bomet County Assembly

The Bomet County Assembly mini chamber.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • County Assembly approves allocation is meant to cater for visits by the presidency.
  • The budget approval raises questions about compliance with the austerity directives.

The Bomet County Assembly has approved the Sh9.7 billion budget for the 2024/25 financial year, which controversially includes a Sh5 million allocation for local presidential visits, despite such events being covered by the national government.

The allocation is meant to cater for visits by the presidency, including the President, First Lady, Deputy President and Second Lady.

“The county government is running a programme with the office of the spouse of the Deputy President,” states the 2024-2025 budget document tabled at the county assembly.

It states that last year's experience of hosting the Presidency, including a three-day visit by the Second Lady, put a strain on the county's hospitality resources and presented logistical issues.

“The Chepalungu Forest reforestation project is increasingly receiving high profile guests and is likely to attract presidential visits based on the proposed operations, thus the need to increase the budget (by Sh1 million from the original Sh4 million),” the finance document reads.

The approval of the budget comes despite President William Ruto's austerity measures, which have seen national and county governments and agencies cut spending on non-priority areas.

In particular, Sh515.6 million of the budget is allocated to local and foreign travel, accommodation and allowances, raising questions about compliance with the austerity directives.

The county's source revenue target was reduced from Sh789 million to Sh609 million by the MCAs, who felt the original target was too ambitious.

They cited the fact that only Sh242 million was collected in the 2022/2023 financial year. Despite earlier warnings by the Auditor General, Sh7 million was again budgeted for the automation of revenue processes, which is yet to yield significant results.

“The import of this is that in the likely event that this projection is not attained, it will create a huge repercussion in service delivery,” Erick Kirui, the chairperson of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, said while presenting the report.

The Executive, including the Office of the Governor, receives Sh417.4 million for travel and accommodation, while the County Assembly receives Sh98.1 million.

The Civil Service accounts for Sh321.4 million in commuting allowances, with additional allocations for travel and accommodation. The Office of the Deputy Governor receives Sh8.6 million for travel and accommodation.

There are also substantial allocations for "other operating expenses" and "flagship projects", raising concern about transparency.

For example, Sh220 million for flagship projects in the Economic Planning Department, which does not implement development projects, has been slashed to Sh170 million. In addition, Sh10 million labelled as "other operating expenses" lacks clarity on its intended use.

The budget also includes an allocation of Sh15 million for new vehicles for the deputy governor's office, as well as increased spending on various operating expenses and outreach programmes.

The allocation for the construction of the governor's residence has been reduced from Sh42 million to Sh28 million, with previous allocations totalling Sh48.5 million. Construction has been going on since 2019.

Other notable allocations include Sh10 million for the World Bank-funded Bomet fire station, Sh3.5 million for the renovation of Sotik houses, and Sh466 million for the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries department, including Sh6 million for casual workers whose roles remain unclear.

The budget also allocates Sh17 million for overdue staff promotions, Sh57 million for casual labour and Sh120 million for village councils, including Sh75.3 million for annual payments to 1,255 village council members.

The contracts of 182 ward administrators, which expired on January 31, 2024, will not be renewed, saving Sh64.1 million.

Despite the controversy and potential misallocations, the budget has been passed, leaving questions about its impact on service delivery and adherence to the president's austerity measures.