Counties used Sh16.2b on domestic and foreign trips

All the 47 devolved units spent Sh16.2 billion on foreign and local travel in the 2018/2019 financial year.

According to the latest report of the Controller of Budget (CoB), governors, members of the executive, speakers and ward representatives used Sh13.44 billion on domestic travel and Sh2.75 billion on foreign trips.

"This was was an increase of Sh11.36 billion, or 42.5 per cent, from 2017/2018 financial period," the report by the acting Controller of Budget Stephen Masha stated.

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Mr Masha noted that the high expenditure on travel, which is a non-core activity, may lead to reduced expenditure on key development programmes.

Yatani announced

The report comes hot on the heels of the announcement by acting Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, which stipulated austerity measures to scale down expenditure owing to the shrinking revenue competing with ballooning public debts.

Last month, Mr Yatani informed Cabinet secretaries and departmental Finance officers that the Government planned to cut spending across various areas.

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The CS stated in the memo that the decision was in coherence with the pursuit of the Big Four agenda, and that it was only prudent that the Government lives within its means.

He also advised the county governments to follow the norm as the bid to scale down on recurrent expenditure takes effect today.

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The report by the CoB revealed that Machakos had the highest expenditure of domestic and foreign travel at Sh642.93 million. This represented an increase of 70.8 per cent compared to Sh376.37 million spent in 2017/18 fiscal period.

Nairobi County was the second highest spender on the same, having blown Sh641.11 million, whose bulk was spent by the executive.

The executive spent Sh545.51 million while the county assembly spent a paltry Sh95.6 million.

In the 2017/2018 financial year, the Nairobi County government spent Sh599.61 million on the same.

The city county was followed by Kisii, which spent Sh597.73 million, comprising of Sh135.86 million spent by the county assembly and Sh461.87 million by the executive.

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In the previous financial year, the county spent Sh485.60 million.

Migori spent Sh562.7 million during the 2018/2019 financial year, an increase of Sh123.27 million as compared to Sh439.43 million spent in the previous fiscal period.

The acting CoB has blamed some of the counties for missing priorities due to their failure to establish internal audit committees as required by the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, 2012, to oversee financial operations and management.

“The office recommends that counties, which have not yet constituted Internal Audit Committees, prioritise their establishment as per the law and improve oversight in the use of public funds,” the CoB advised.

The CoB further noted that a section of the counties were yet to constitute County Budget and Economic forums in line with PFM Act, 2012, which will go a long way in improving planning, budgeting, and execution framework in the devolved units.

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It was closely followed by Mombasa County whose travel expenses increased by 118.3 percent. Mombasa County spent Sh557.18 million most of which was spent by the County Assembly.

“Sh6.19 million was spent by the County Assembly and Sh550.98 million by the County Executive. This was 5.9 per cent of total recurrent expenditure and was an increase from Sh255.18 million spent in 2017/18,” the report noted.t

Travel expenses in Siaya County increased exponentially by 116.4 per cent, the county spending Sh365.84 million in 2018/19 as compared to Sh169.02 million in 2017/2018 fiscal period.

Expense increased

In Nyeri County, the travel expense increased by 60.4 per cent from Sh200.86 million to Sh332.44 million in the last financial year.

Nyandarua County spent Sh140.41 million more on travel during the 2018/19 financial year as compared to the previous fiscal period, increasing the expenditure to Sh292.1 million.

Narok County's domestic and foreign travel expenditure increased by 187 per cent from Sh166.49 million spent in 2017/18 to Sh478.57 million in the last financial year, most of which was spent by the County Assembly.

Some of the county governments, however, reduced their costs on travel. They included Makueni County, which spent Sh231.34 million as compared to Sh250.14 million spent in the previous financial year.

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Ukur YataniTreasuryController of Budget