Ruto seeks Sh2 billion in next budget for his foreign trips

William Ruto

President William Ruto. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Taxpayers will fork out Sh2 billion to facilitate President William Ruto’s trips abroad if Parliament approves the budget proposals for the financial year starting July 1.

The National Treasury has allocated Sh700 million for President Ruto’s state visits against a requirement of Sh2 billion.

President Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua recently burst their full-year budgets in seven months, amid austerity plans aimed at reversing the trend of borrowing to fund government operations.

The Budget and Appropriations committee of the National Assembly has also allocated Sh301 million against a Sh2 billion request for state protocol and utilities that include United Nations General Assembly (Sh250 million), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Sh100 million), African Union (Sh150 million), East African Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (Sh150 million) as well as administration activities such as cleaning, transport, fuel and maintenance of Sh500 million.

Official data shows that Sh9.09 billion was spent by the Executive Office of the President in the period through January against an original full-year estimate of Sh8.64 billion. This represents an over-expenditure of Sh450.11 million or 5.21 per cent of the original 12-month budget.

“The ministry requires an annual budget allocation of Sh2 billion for state visits to cater for outbound visits,” the committee on Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations committee said in a report to Parliament.

The committee wants the Budget and Appropriations Committee to allocate an additional Sh1.3 billion to Dr Ruto’s globetrotting mission after the Treasury only allocated Sh700 million.

The Treasury proposed to increase the budget for the Executive Office of the President by Sh5.18 billion to Sh13.83 billion in the Supplementary Budget for the year 2022/23, a growth of 59.89 per cent. The DP was also given an additional Sh450.85 million outside of the Presidency.

State House’s budget has more than doubled to Sh8.85 billion from Sh4.37 billion approved under former President Uhuru Kenyatta, while Mr Gachagua’s office expenditure has been increased by Sh914.25 million to Sh2.63 billion.

The over-expenditure by the Office of the President came in the period Dr Ruto, who took power last September, directed the Treasury to cut the budget for running the government by as much as Sh300 billion in measures aimed at bringing “our country to sanity” where the State does not borrow to “finance recurrent expenditure”.

Dr Ruto also said he aimed to bring the recurrent expenditure down further next year by an undisclosed amount, in a bid to achieve a recurrent budget surplus by the third year.

Recurrent expenditure usually includes civil servants’ salaries, travel and refreshment as well as fuel costs for the government’s fleet of vehicles.

The Treasury data show the recurrent expenditure by the Presidency for the seven-month period was 12.47 per cent, or Sh931 million, more than Sh7.47 billion spent by the previous administration a year ago.

The biggest jump in recurrent expenditure for the country’s most powerful office was in December when some Sh2.19 billion was withdrawn from the exchequer against a monthly average for the period of Sh1.2 billion.

The new administration’s fiscal consolidation plan has faced hurdles emanating from below-target performance in revenue mobilisation and above-target expenditures.

For example, ordinary revenue— comprising taxes, levies, rent for buildings, investment, fines and forfeitures— for the half year to December fell short of the Sh532.37 billion target by Sh32.81 billion, while recurrent expenditure overshot the budget by Sh114.24 billion to nearly Sh1.1 trillion.

“Recurrent expenditure for national government amounted to Sh1,096.3 billion (excluding Sh25.2 billion for Parliament and Judiciary), against a target of Sh982.0 billion which was Sh114.3 billion above the set target,” the Treasury wrote in the quarterly budgetary and expenditure report for the period ending December.