State spent only a third of its development budget, says report

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo
The Government only spent a third of what it was supposed to use on development in the first nine months of the year.

This happened at a time when legislators and the presidency used billions on travel and to entertain guests.

The latest report by the Controller of Budget (CoB) says  in the nine months from July 2015 to March 2016, the national government only spent Sh247.4billion.

This translates to an absorption rate of 34.3 per cent, according to the third quarter national government review report.

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It is also a decline from the 47 per cent reported in a similar period the previous year, signalling that the Government's ability to implement the development budget has weakened.

It means that the national government was only able to use about three shillings for every 10 shillings set aside for development expenditure.

The report notes that development expenditure was affected by delays in release of development funds during the reporting period.

"In order to realise the FY2015/16 development goals, there is need for the National Treasury to ensure timely release of funds towards development activities," Ms Agnes Odhiambo, the Controller of Budget, says in the report tabled in parliament this week.

Contradiction

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The new revelations contradict an explanation constantly given by the Government for its heavy borrowing and cite huge development programmes that it must service. But as the government failed to spend money for development on time, it raced ahead of its budget when it came to money for travel, hospitality and salaries.

The presidency, which comprises State House and the Office of the Deputy President, spent a third of the entire expenditure on hospitality in the period under review. From the Sh3.2 billion spent on hospitality by the national government, Sh1 billion was used by the presidency.

This means that the presidency was spending more than Sh100 million every month on hospitality alone. Despite Government announcing austerity measures that were to be in effect at the time of the report, expenditure on travel and hospitality shot up by a third from the previous year spending.

In total, all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) spent Sh11.1 billion on travel and hospitality. This was a 32 per cent increase from Sh8.4 billion used up in a similar period the previous year. Ironically, the National Assembly which should provide oversight had the highest expenditure on domestic travel.

This is after it spent Sh2.1 billion on its members for the first nine months of the year for travelling within the country. This expenditure accounts for 40 per cent of the total domestic expenditure by all ministries, departments and agencies.

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Legislators mostly pocket these billions when they file mileage claims for domestic travel mostly to visit their constituencies. The ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was the biggest spender on trips outside the country.

It used Sh902.9 million in the period under review, this is an equivalent of 35 per cent of the total expenditure on foreign travel.

In total, Government spending on domestic travel stood at Sh5.3 billion, up from Sh3.9 billion the previous year while foreign travel cost the taxpayer Sh2.6 billion up from Sh2.2 billion, according to the report.

Hospitality spending rose to Sh3.1 billion, up from Sh2.1 billion the previous year.

Salaries remained the biggest recurrent expenditure item under taking up 41.8 per cent of the recurrent expenditure.

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