The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has scrapped travel allowances for its staff attending sponsored events so as to tame the costs of trips abroad.
The new austerity steps, contained in a circular from Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau and dated September 6, 2019, also applies to staff attending sponsored training and seminars in Kenya.
Latest official data shows that the ministry - whose activities mainly take place outside the national borders - spent Sh1.2 billion on trips abroad in the first nine months of 2018/19. That level of expenditure accounted for a quarter of the Sh4.2 billion that the 64 State departments and agencies blew on foreign trips.
The data, compiled by the Controller of Budget, shows that the foreign affairs ministry also spent Sh189m on domestic travel and Sh26m on training.
“It is the decision of the government that effective from September 1, 2019, officers going on sponsored activities either locally or abroad will no longer be entitled to Quarter Per Diem.” Mr Macharia says in a circular addressed to all heads of missions, directorates and departments of the ministry.
“Kindly ensure that all staff working under you are properly informed and that this requirement is strictly complied with,” adds Mr Kamau. A report by former Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo indicated that taxpayers spent Sh27 billion in the 2017/18 financial year on foreign trips, up from Sh24.9 billion the previous year, for national and county governments.
The reports also show travel spending by counties has been rising, increasing by 55 per cent to Sh12.1 billion from June 2014, as that of the national government rose by 66 per cent to Sh15.5 billion.
In some instances, workers in ministries spend huge chunks of money making merry while on duty abroad, then present receipts to the accounting officers to justify reimbursements.