Ministers have defied Treasury order for budget cuts on non-essential items to splash Sh13.7 billion on travel, publicity and entertainment.
The Controller of Budget (CoB) in the report for the first six months to December show ministries and agencies increased their expenditure on non-essential items by Sh2.29 billion or 20 percent compared to a similar period a year earlier.
This came in a period when the Treasury had announced budget cuts on the non-essential spending to curb borrowing in an economy where taxes are trailing targets.
“In the period under review, travelling expenditure recorded Sh8.9 billion and comprised of domestic travel at Sh5.7 billion and Sh3.2 billion on foreign travels. This was followed by Sh2.6 billion on hospitality,” CoB says in the report.
The government has been struggling to meet its revenue targets in an environment of job cuts and depressed earnings, forcing it to rump up borrowing to plug budget deficits.
The Treasury and President Uhuru Kenyatta have repeatedly pushed for cuts on non-essential spending.
The latest directive is a product of funding gaps following below budget revenue performance due to the slower economic activity that left the Kenya Revenue Authority with a Sh91 billion tax hole in the year to June.
But COB data show there not cuts in the overall spending on the non-core spending that also includes motoring costs.
The data shows that publicity recorded the highest jump in spending of 59.8 percent to Sh998.7 million followed by hospitality, which rose 24.9 percent to Sh2.6 billion.
President Kenyatta’s office and that of his deputy spent Sh957.7 million on hospitality, which was a third of the government’s spending on the item.
Spending on foreign and local trips setback taxpayers Sh8.9 billion in the six months to December, reflecting a rise of 18.7 percent.
Foreign trips accounted for Sh3.2 billion while domestic travel Sh5.7 billion with the foreign affairs ministry gobbling more than a third of expenses on overseas tours followed by MPS (Sh914 million) and the Parliamentary Service Commission at Sh616.9 million.
Treasury singled out overseas trips by the government — which often involve hefty travel allowances and huge entourages — and hospitality or entertainment spend by government departments — as examples of wasteful spending.
The latest directive is a product of funding gaps following below budget revenue performance due to the slower economic activity that left the State a Sh138 billion income hole in the six months.
Critics have accused the government of ramping up borrowing at a rate that will saddle future generations with too much debt.
However, the government has defended the increased borrowing, saying the country must invest in its infrastructure, including roads and railways.