President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, top the list of government officials who blew more than Sh5.7 billion on entertainment in the year ended June.
The Presidency —which comprises the offices of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto — spent Sh1.73 billion on hospitality, accounting for 30.1 per cent of the Sh5.75 billion that public offices splashed on parties and receptions in the 2016/17 fiscal year.
The Controller of Budget report shows by comparison, the 49 other government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) spent a total of Sh4.02 billion during the period.
Taxpayers paid Sh514 million more on hospitality in the year, up from Sh5.23 billion in the previous year, reflecting defiance to austerity measures ordered by the Treasury.
The Treasury directed accounting officers in all ministries to cut non-essential budget such as conferencing, travel and motor vehicle maintenance to the bare minimum in an effort to free funds for projects in a business environment where State income was trailing targets.
The Treasury had directed that spending on non-essential items should be cut by up to 30 per cent.
Besides the Presidency, other top spenders include Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Sh496 million) Parliament (Sh482 million), Sports ministry (Sh436 million) and the Treasury (Sh370.6 million).
The Treasury has in the past four years struggled to implement austerity measures prompted by underperformance in revenue collection amid rising expenditure.
The Jubilee government early in 2014 announced a tight austerity programme.
This included pay cuts for top officials, lower entertainment expenditure and curb in trips expenditure with only essential international travel allowed.
Treasury, Foreign Affairs and Parliament are among the top spenders that cut their entertainment spent in their year to June compared the previous period.
Treasury’s entertainment expenditure dropped by Sh112 million, Foreign Affairs (Sh73.2 million) and Parliament (Sh47 million). That of Presidency and Sports ministry rose by Sh320 million and Sh270 million respectively.
The hospitality spend has jumped by Sh1.8 billion since 2014, representing a 45.5 per cent growth since the onset of devolution.