Editorials

Freeze unnecessary travel by officials even after virus

nt

National Treasury building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Such austerity measures will help Kenya save up to Sh30 billion in the year to June 2021 or Sh2.5 billion monthly from civil servants' reduced local and foreign trips, in line with the World Bank's recommendation.
  • It is unethical to spend billions of shillings on travel, training, and hospitality, activities which are major spending lines by ministries, departments, and agencies, yet taxpayers are languishing in poverty.

That civil servants' travel perks have dropped by Sh7.39 billion during the Covid-19 season shows that out-of-town assignments have all along been unnecessary expenses.

State employees have been spending billions of shillings on meetings or benchmarking trips which have no significant impact on the economy.

The restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus suspended the meetings, denying the State employees opportunities to increase their wages through perks such as mileage, sitting and subsistence allowances earned from local and foreign travels.

Taxpayers spent Sh21.06 billion on the perks in the period to June from Sh27.03 billion in a similar period last year, reflecting a fall of 22 percent.

This drop shows that officials can attend most international events from their offices on video conferencing platforms like Zoom.

For instance, the outbreak of coronavirus forced the cancelation of a New York trip where 15 Members of Parliament were to be paid Sh20 million as allowances. The cancellation has had no impact on the common Kenyan women.

A cost-benefit analysis can help the government put in place policy changes that will curtail unnecessary spending on a countrywide scale.

Senior civil servants are paid Sh18,000 per day for retreats held in towns such as Nyeri, Nanyuki, Nakuru, and Garissa. Those travelling abroad receive an average of Sh50,000 per day in allowances.

These payments are unnecessary because government offices have boardrooms and video conferencing solutions which will save more than travel and out-of-office expenses.

Such austerity measures will help Kenya save up to Sh30 billion in the year to June 2021 or Sh2.5 billion monthly from civil servants' reduced local and foreign trips, in line with the World Bank's recommendation.

It is unethical to spend billions of shillings on travel, training, and hospitality, activities which are major spending lines by ministries, departments, and agencies, yet taxpayers are languishing in poverty.

This is money that can be channelled to more deserving areas such as referral hospitals and far-flung schools which have no classrooms, water, and toilets.