Kenyan leaders appear to be suffering from two major problems – compulsive borrowing and largesse once the money hits the public coffers. The plan to upgrade the former residence of Coast provincial commissioner into an official home of the Deputy President is the latest public spending that shows the problem in prioritising spending.
The facelift of the residence in Mombasa is expected to cost Sh152.4 million on completion.
This is in addition to the repairs of Sh400 million residence in Nairobi that the Treasury has allocated a further Sh15.6 million and another Sh35 million for the Harambee Avenue office. But this is just one example. Only recently, the Business Daily reported that the Isiolo airport was lying idle after gobbling Sh2 billion, raising the questions: Was there thought put in the project? Did the planners conduct a feasibility study? How will the public benefit in the short and long run?
Whereas some of the allocations may be justified, the timing flies in the face of austerity measures put in place to ease the burden on taxpayers and negates calls for prudent use of public resources.
For starters, the Coast residence is a misplaced priority given that some State lodges are idle most of the time except when the President and Deputy President occasionally make use of them. Meanwhile, the cost of maintaining public officials’ residences are recurrent.
The government should rethink its priorities and consider allocating funds to sectors such as health and education that are currently experiencing a cash crunch in the delivery of crucial services.