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Taxpayers save Sh5.2bn on Covid-19 travel restrictions

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Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakangó during a past briefing in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

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Summary

  • The latest report from the Controller of Budget (CoB) shows that the top officials spent Sh13.85 billion on their domestic and foreign travel, training, and per diems, a 27 percent fall from Sh19.06 billion.
  • The travel restrictions led to a work-from-home shift, denying the top officials the perks.

Taxpayers saved Sh5.21 billion in the nine months to March on travel, training, and per diems for top State officials at the back of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The latest report from the Controller of Budget (CoB) shows that the top officials spent Sh13.85 billion on their domestic and foreign travel, training, and per diems, a 27 percent fall from Sh19.06 billion spent in the corresponding period the previous year.

The travel restrictions led to a work-from-home shift, denying the top officials the perks.

They included a ban on social gatherings, movement into five counties including Mombasa and Nairobi where most of the trainings are held in high-end hotels and the five-month ban on international and local flights.

“Some budget items recorded low levels of expenditure, which was attributed to the impact of Covid -19 mitigation measures adopted by the government to curb the spread of the disease,” Margaret Nyakango, the CoB said.

“Those affected were travelling, training and hospitality activities which are some of the major spending budget items by the MDAs (minstries, departments and agencies.”

The data shows that spending on foreign trips recorded the biggest drop (Sh2.76 billion) to Sh1.51 billion in the period under review, followed by the hospitality that dropped by Sh1.51 billion to Sh3 billion.

Domestic travel and training allowances posted marginal declines with each dropping by less than Sh200 million from the similar period the previous year.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in March last year banned non-essential foreign travel by all State officials. The directive required all senior officials to obtain mandatory clearance to travel from the Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua.

The head of State instead directed ambassadors and high commissioners abroad to represent the government in engagements within their respective jurisdictions.

Taxpayers have over the years spent billions of shillings on air tickets and per-diems for State officials, especially those on trips to expensive destinations in the US and expensive European cities like London, Paris, and Geneva.