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State officials burn Sh12b on domestic travel

An airplane taking off. [iStockphoto]

Government expenditure on travel continues to rise according to Controller of Budget (COB) Margaret Nyakang’o.

Nyakang’o, in the National Government Budget Implementation Review Report for the first nine months of the financial year 2023/24, revealed that the total expenditure by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) was Sh18.18 billion.

The report revealed huge spending on domestic travel compared to foreign travel.

“In the period under review, the total expenditure on travel by MDAs was Sh18.18 billion comprising Sh12.33 billion and Sh5.85 billion for domestic and foreign travel respectively,” read the report.

The expenditure on travel increased by Sh4.11 billion representing 29.2 per cent growth.

Compared to a similar period in the FY 2022/23, the expenditure on domestic travel increased by Sh2.94 billion while the expenditure on foreign travel increased by Sh1.17 billion, according to the report.

The Office of the Controller of Budget said it requested MDAs to submit information on foreign travel to enable her to review adherence to government directives on foreign travel but some did not comply.

“The Controller of Budget recommends compliance with government guidelines relating to non-core expenses including domestic and foreign travel,” the report says.

In June 2023, the government issued guidelines on foreign travel for MDAs to streamline travel conditions, manage delegation sizes, standardise application procedures and set timelines.

Some of the directives included limiting delegations headed by Cabinet Secretaries to four persons and limiting the cumulative days away to a maximum of seven days per travel, 15 days per quarter and 45 days per year.

The government said non-essential foreign travel was suspended to ensure fiscal prudence.

To assess adherence to the guidelines, the Office of COB said it conducted a review by requesting MDAs to submit their foreign travel records for the first nine months of FY 2023/24.

Thirty-five Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, the OCOB said, did not submit their foreign travel data as required.

Data discrepancies indicating inconsistencies and potential inaccuracies in the reported information were also noted among the MDAs that submitted data.

The CoB recommended strict compliance with the comprehensive guidelines on foreign travel.

The public debt stock as of March 31, 2024, the report reveals, stood at Sh10.42 trillion, comprising Sh5.16 trillion dues to external lenders and Sh5.26 trillion dues to domestic lenders.

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