Uhuru, Ruto entertainment budget increases by Sh422m in nine months


President Uhuru Kenyatta. FILE PHOTO | NMG

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, raised their entertainment budget by Sh422 million in the nine months to March, defying the government’s austerity drive.

Data from the Controller of Budget shows the Presidency — which comprises the offices of Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto — spent Sh1.18 billion on parties and receptions in the period compared to Sh758.2 million spent at a similar period a year earlier.

The 55.6 percent jump in spending comes amid an austerity push by the Treasury to cut down on non-essential spending in efforts to free up cash for development and essential services such as health and education.

Expenditure on hospitality for 71 ministries, State departments and agencies (MDAs) increased 18 percent to Sh4.5 billion compared to the Sh3.8 billion spent a year before.

At Sh1.18 billion, the Presidency entertainment budget accounted for a quarter of the Sh4.5 billion that public offices spent on parties and receptions.

Other top spenders on parties during the period were the Interior Ministry at Sh900.2 million, which was a drop compared to the Sh1.08 billion at a similar period the previous year.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget on entertainment jumped 69 percent to Sh604.4 million from the Sh357 million at corresponding period a year earlier.

The increases defy calls by the Treasury and President Kenyatta for cuts on non-essential spending.

The Treasury announced new austerity measures in September last year targeting trips, training and advertisement as the State moved to curb wastage of taxpayers’ funds.

As part of the measures, the Treasury issued a directive compelling all government agencies to buy only locally manufactured furniture fittings.

The move comes amid missed tax collection target by the Kenya Revenue Authority, underlining the huge task ahead as the State grapples with the rising budget deficit.

Exchequer statistics show the KRA posted a flat growth in collections for the first three months of the year, reflecting a slowdown in business activities and jobs that started even before the Covid-19 pandemic shocks kicked in.