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Editorials

Curb wanton wastage of taxpayers’ funds cash

Foreign Affairs Secretary Monica Juma
Foreign Affairs Secretary Monica Juma. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Once again, the wanton wastage of taxpayers’ cash in Kenyan missions abroad is in focus. The Foreign Affairs ministry is reported to have spent Sh1.9 billion on diplomats’ house rent in only nine months.

Reason? The houses the ministry bought for its staff in cities like London, Washington and New York are now in disrepair, having been neglected over the years. This calls to question the duty of care that is bestowed on every public official given that each embassy submits to the accounting officers an inventory of movable and immovable properties under its care at the beginning of every financial year.

It smacks of an official apathy towards prudent spending of scarce public resources that the taxpayer is spending double to house diplomats while it would have only taken renovation of the houses, which were acquired in late 1980s and early 1990s.

The ministry in March this year asked the Treasury for Sh7 billion meant for buying more houses for its foreign staff, which would ideally save similar rental payments in the future.

The taxpayer in Kenya has somehow resigned to the fate that public officials will always be a wasteful lot irrespective of their work stations.

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Our bloated Parliament prides itself as the work station of some of the world’s best paid MPs. The independent commissions, national government and county structures have churned out a disproportionately high number of VIPs, each with exaggerated senses of taxpayer-financed entitlement.

Whenever a new crop of public officials assume office, they demand new cars, furniture, equipment and offices renovated to their taste. The Kenyan civil servants posted abroad are no exception, they want to occupy posh offices in the priciest locations.

The Controller of Budget report shows that the Foreign Affairs ministry accounted for 35 per cent of the Sh5.3 billion that the State spent on rent for offices and homes in the nine months.

The wastefulness must end. The Foreign Affairs ministry must either chose to renovate its houses and get its staff to stay in them or sell them and choose affordable locations for its missions abroad.

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