President Uhuru’s foreign trips that cost billions hit a century
SEE ALSO :Renewables top 90pc of Kenya’s powerTravel by government officials pushed the cost of domestic and foreign travels from Sh9.3 billion in 2013-14 to Sh15.4 billion in the 2016-17 financial year, according to a report by the Controller of Budget. Observers claim that several domestic and foreign trips by VIPs, including their hangers on, are costing the country billions of shillings cumulatively and continue to burden Kenyans. The president has already made 15 foreign trips this year. On Friday, National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani in a Gazette Notice indicated that the presidency would receive about Sh9 billion for the financial year 2019-2020, Sh8 billion more than what Kibaki received in his final year. The shuttle diplomacy for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), then Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed’s candidature for the African Union commission chairperson and the charm offensive to ward off crimes against humanity cases at the International Criminal Courts (ICC) could have pushed up the president’s trips outside.
SEE ALSO :It pays to put cash in empowering peopleThe recent trip to the Caribbean states could be seen as part of the lobbying for the non-permanent membership of the UNSC. Last year, Kenya declared interest in the council and the Cabinet endorsed the decision to seek the position. Cabinet granted approval for Kenya to vie for a non-permanent membership of the UNSC for two years (2021-2022) during the 74th session of the UN in 2020. The quest for the non-permanent membership of the UNSC set President Kenyatta into a frenzy of shuttle diplomacy that started last year immediately after the Cabinet approval. The UNSC has 15 members: five (China, France, Russian Federation, UK and US) are permanent and 10 are non-permanent and are elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly. During his first term, President Uhuru was on a charm offensive due to the ICC case, and thus several government functionaries made trips to different countries. In 2013 and 2014, he visited Ethiopia and over 20 other countries as part of endearing himself to the globe. Efforts to have Ms Mohamed win the AU commission chairperson post saw the President and his deputy William Ruto stage a rigorous campaign in 52 African countries. Investment opportunities Mohamed, however, lost to Mahamat Faki, who replaced South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has in the past defended the president’s travels by saying his foreign trips were a boon to the country since Kenya gets trade and investment opportunities and better ties with the rest of the world. “In the Cuba trip between March 14 and 17, for instance, the president struck a deal for deployment of 100 Cuban medical specialists to Kenya’s public health facilities who are now working in different 47 counties,” Ms Juma said. Prof Macharia Munene said, in overall, the trips are beneficial to Kenya. “There are certain things an ambassador cannot achieve and the presence of the president opens those doors,” Prof Munene said. He said every trip Uhuru has made has been followed by an influx of trips by other leaders to Kenya, and that is an indication that his trips make an impact.
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