President Ruto dips into his travel cash to fund special needs kits

Ruto: I'll knock Sh500m off my travel budget

What you need to know:

  • President Ruto has made 38 foreign trips since September 2023, visiting 45 cities in 38 countries in 83 days.
  • He said the funds will instead be used to build a manufacturing plant for assistive devices for learners with disabilities.

President William Ruto has announced plans to slash the Executive’s travel budget by up to Sh500 million as part of the austerity measures by the Kenya Kwanza government.

The President said the saved funds would be reallocated to support learners with disabilities.

Speaking while flagging off vehicles for education officials at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (Kise) in Nairobi on Thursday, October 26, Dr Ruto said the money will fund the production of assistive devices designed by children with disabilities.

He said the funds will instead be used to build a manufacturing plant for assistive devices for learners with disabilities.

“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,” said President Ruto.

“So, MPs, agree to approve the proposal that I will bring to Parliament tomorrow (today) to find the Sh500 million. Ensure you approve it,” he added.

He stressed that his administration remains committed to allocating resources that will provide every child with the opportunity to realise their full potential and achieve the highest level of success based on their intelligence, skills, and determination.

“Despite economic constraints, we are determined to allocate resources to provide the best education for all our children,” said Dr Ruto. This comes at a time when the President has spent over Sh56 million on traveling expenses in the first half of the financial year ending June 2024.

This is twice the amount spent by the same office in a similar period in 2021 and four times more than his predecessor. President Ruto has made 38 trips to foreign countries since taking office in September 2022 where he has visited 45 cities in 38 countries over the course of 83 days.

In May this year, the National Assembly’s Defence Committee wanted the Budget and Appropriations Committee to allocate an additional Sh1.3 billion to Dr Ruto’s globe-trotting mission after Treasury only allocated Sh700 million.

The move came after a report three months before showed that President Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, had finished their full-year budgets in seven months. Early this month, President Ruto stopped non-essential foreign travel by State officers.

In a communication sent out by Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei, the government said the austerity measures would affect delegations accompanying the President, his deputy, the First Lady and the Prime Cabinet Secretary.

According to the circular, such travels would be approved for officials playing a direct role in the scheduled activities or programmes of the principals.

“In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs is directed to rationalise the number of personnel accompanying each of the principals, and reduce the same by 50 per cent,” the circular said.

Mr Koskei said the decision was necessitated by the need to scale down and prioritise spending, focusing on the critical operations and activities that are essential to providing services to Kenyans.

He said the government would no longer meet expenses for benchmarking and study visits, training and related capacity building initiatives, research, academic meetings and symposia undertaken by government officers. Others were conferences and meetings of general participation; side events and exhibitions as well as caucus and association meetings and events.

The restrictions affected delegation sizes, which were limited to no more than three people for a cabinet secretary and governors and between two and one for other government officials.

Further, the officers would only be allowed to be out of the country for not more than seven days including the travel dates, 15 days per quarter (three months) and 45 days per year.

At the same time, President Ruto has pledged to deploy National Youth Service (NYS) officers starting next week to secure the disputed Mavoko land in Athi River, Machakos County.

He noted that the secured portion of land owned by Kise will be dedicated to the establishment of a factory to manufacture learning devices for students with disabilities. Dr Ruto said he would not allow anyone to encroach on the land.

“The school tells me they have a piece of land in Mavoko and I will make sure that the land is secured. I'm told that there are some people hanging around there, I will deal with them. I will send the NYS next week to secure the land,” he said.

The 203 vehicles, the President said, would significantly improve the mobility, effectiveness, and efficiency of education officers and contribute to the enhancement of supervision and inspection services to schools.

“We expect the officials to enforce school attendance by learners and teachers and map out the necessary support required in all institutions. We also expect them to strengthen internal quality assurance and standards the government is developing with head teachers and principals,” he said.

He added that the vehicles will help Education officials to detect lapses in curriculum delivery and work together with school managers to fix them.

“With examinations beginning next week, these vehicles will improve the monitoring and distribution of examination papers across the country.”

“The examination period tests the entire education system and is one of the ways to ensure the system holds,” he said.