State House
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Inside Sh1bn annual budget for State House renovations 

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The ongoing renovations at State House, Nairobi in this picture taken on May 3, 2024.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | NATION Media Group

Kenyan taxpayers will spend close to Sh1 billion every year for refurbishments of State Houses and Lodges, raising questions on the seriousness of the government’s austerity measures amid difficult financial times.

Documents presented before the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security indicate that the renovation of the presidential residences located in various parts of the country, which started in July 2015, is expected to consume a whopping Sh11.5 billion by the end of the 2026/27 financial year.

While interrogating the documents tabled by State House Comptroller Katoo Ole Metito before MPs on Thursday, Sh3.2 billion of taxpayers’ money had been spent for refurbishments as at March 31 this year.

The document indicates that in order for the renovations to be completed as scheduled on June 30, 2027, taxpayers will have to cough up the balance of Sh8.3 billion.

In the next financial year beginning July 1, 2024, taxpayers will be forced to part with Sh1.5 billion for the refurbishments.

Status of project implementation as of March 31, 2024.

The amount will increase to Sh1.8 billion in the 2025/26 financial year and Sh1.5 billion in the final 2026/27 fiscal year.

The renovations have been allocated Sh1.3 billion in the current financial year.

According to Mr Ole Metito’s document, Sh250 million will be required for the refurbishment of State House Nairobi, Sh240 million for the Mombasa State House and another Sh200 million will be required for the refurbishment of buildings at Nakuru State House.

The cost of refurbishment of State House Nairobi will, however, increase to Sh280 million in the 2025/26 financial year.

The budget for refurbishment of the fence and main House at Mombasa State House will also increase to Sh270 million in the 2025/25 fiscal year, while repairs for Nakuru State will remain the same at Sh200 million.

If MPs approve the allocations, refurbishment of buildings at Eldoret State Lodge will cost taxpayers Sh125 million, Sagana State Lodge will require 35 million for facelift, refurbishment of buildings at Kisumu State Lodge will cost taxpayers Sh14.90 million while refurbishments at Kakamega State Lodge will be Sh15 million.

Additionally, the repairs in Kisii State Lodge will cost taxpayers Sh19 million while the ones at Mtito Andei will cost Sh5 million.

Other works that will cost taxpayers millions of shillings in the State Houses and Lodges include Sh100 million for ICT and networking and communication equipment for Nairobi State House, Sh500 million for construction and other civil works, Sh50 million for the purchase of specialised plant equipment and machinery.

The documents tabled before the committee further show that since inception of the works in 2015, only construction of the civil works is at 52 per cent on completion.

Presently, the refurbishment of State House Nairobi is at 43 per cent, State House Mombasa is at 30 per cent while the refurbishments at Nakuru State House are at 31 per cent.

The proposed expenditure in refurbishment of State Houses and Lodges came just a day after President William Ruto urged Kenyans to brace for more taxes.

“When I came to office, I told everybody to tighten their belts. I am not going to preside over a bankrupt country, a country in debt distress. We have to cut our spending,” President Ruto said on Tuesday at State House, when he hosted students from Harvard Business School in the United States.

Eldoret State Lodge

Journalists during a past function at State Lodge Eldoret.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Pressed by MPs on why taxpayers should shoulder such colossal amounts on the repairs at a time when Kenyans are reeling under the current high cost of living, Mr Ole Metito said that although some of the works are allocated, for instance Sh400 million on paper, at the end of the financial year, Treasury only releases half of the amount.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma questioned the rationale of the budget on the renovations and sought to know if indeed it was necessary at this point in time.

“The amounts on renovations of State Houses are listed in the tens of millions. I don’t know whether this is affordable,” Mr Kaluma said.

Location of the State Houses and lodges.

He asked Mr Ole Metito: “Even your own house, can you renovate at this rate? We must look at areas that can be amended so that other government agencies can also be able to operate.”

Kisumu Town West MP Rosa Buyu pointed out that it is only State House that has not had budget cuts, saying it should be considerate to other Kenyans.

“This particular organ has not had any cuts. Since we are trying to live within what we have, kindly be considerate to other Kenyans,” pleaded Ms Buyu.

Mr Ole Metito told the committee that even President Ruto is concerned with the amounts and told them they must lead from the front on austerity measures.

He revealed to the committee that they were even summoned by the President before coming to Parliament over the amounts, saying something must be done to reduce the figures.

“His Excellency is serious in bringing these costs down. Actually, we were summoned today and he told us to bring the costs down as we must lead from the front inasmuch as cutting costs is concerned,” Mr Ole Metito said.

MPs also grilled the State House boss, demanding to know how Sh1.2 billion that was withdrawn under Article 223 of the Constitution on supplementary appropriation was utilised.

However, Mr Ole Metito defended the expenditure, saying it was used for critical operations and maintenance activities.

Still pressing on the matter, Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Jehow sought further clarification on the critical operations that the money was used for.

“What are these critical operations that Sh1.2 billion withdrawn was used for? Kindly highlight some of them,” she inquired.
Mr Ole Metito said the money was used for personal emoluments and maintenance.

For the 2024/25 financial year, State House has been allocated Sh9.4 billion, with Sh7,937,300 for recurrent expenditure and Sh1,558,700,000 for development.

Mr Ole Metito told MPs that their biggest problem is the recurrent expenditure, saying in the first two years of any administration, it normally takes time for the President to set his vision in motion.

He also said the President has also been hosting regional, continental and world leaders hence the huge amount in recurrent expenditure.

President Ruto’s government is at a crossroads especially with the proposed new taxes in the Finance Bill, 2024, with the opposition threatening to revive anti-government protests if Kenyans’ views are not considered.