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Kenyan Government to spend Sh11b on houses for diplomats

By Daniel Psirmoi | Published Fri, March 10th 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 9th 2017 at 21:52 GMT +3
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)

The Government plans to spend over Sh11 billion to buy land and buildings for its ambassadors across the globe.

The money will be used to acquire residential houses and office space for diplomats, and also modernise its various missions over the next five years.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed told Parliament that Sh6 billion was needed to buy a residential building and chancery in Geneva, Switzerland. The project will be funded in phases starting with Sh4 billion in the 2016-2017 financial year.

"Currently, the ministry pays Sh140 million in rent per year in Geneva. The cost of renting and leasing buildings to house chanceries, ambassadors and staff abroad is very prohibitive and such costs are unsustainable in the long run," she said.

During scrutiny of the ministry's 2017-2018 budget Thursday, the CS told the Defence and Foreign Relations committee that the only way to cut costs was to buy and build offices and staff houses.

She also said State properties abroad needed to be upgraded, adding that the ministry had designed a model comprising a chancery, ambassador's residence and six staff houses in each of it missions abroad.

"Comprehensive renovations, repairs and maintenance projects will be undertaken at a total cost of Sh5 billion. This will be carried out in a phased manner for a period of five years. Sh1 billion is required in the current financial year," said Amina.

According to the CS, Sh1.5 billion is needed to construct the ministry's headquarters in Nairobi - Sh1 billion will go towards purchasing land and the rest to design and supervision of works.

"The ministry's departments are scattered in different locations and buildings in the city. The Chinese government has pledged financial support of Sh2 billion," she explained.

The CS listed the ministry's achievements such as the purchase of a building in Kampala, Uganda, in the 2014-2015 financial year for the ambassador. The building has six apartments that have been rented out.

"We have also completed construction of the ambassador's residence in Islamabad, Pakistan. We purchased office space in New York at a cost of Sh2 billion, which houses both the mission and the consulate," said Amina.

In 2013, top ministry officials were charged with abuse of office after it emerged the country bought an embassy building in Tokyo at an exorbitant price.

Moses Wetang'ula and Thuita Mwangi, who were the Foreign Affairs minister and permanent secretary at the time, were forced to step aside. Mr Mwangi has since been acquitted.

Also charged were Kenya's Ambassador to Libya, Anthony Muchiri, and Allan Mburu, the former charge d'affaires in Japan.