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State agencies defy Ruto's austerity directive with tenders

 President William Ruto arrives for an interdenominational prayer service at Kabarnet ASK Showground on November 13, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Several government agencies controlling multibillion-shilling State contracts continue to defy President William Ruto's order to slash hospitality budgets to curb wastage. 

A spot check by The Standard shows several State agencies are still engaging in non-essential spending on such goods and services as the provision of cut flowers and lunches, against the President's directive through the National Treasury. 

"The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency invites eligible bidders to submit sealed tenders for the provision of hospitality services for Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency for a period of two years framework Agreement (Conference facilities, outside catering and accommodations services)," says one such tender seen by The Standard, which closes on November 29. 

"The Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund invites sealed tenders for the proposed framework agreement for hotel services (conference and accommodation)," reads another tender by the Sports, Arts and Social Fund, which closes on December 7. 

In a separate tender-related announcement, State House says it is seeking to prequalify suppliers for the supply of fresh cut flowers and flower arrangements. 

"The Executive Office of the President (State House) invites applications for pre-qualification/registration of suppliers for the provision of goods and services from interested eligible bidders for the period ending June 30, 2024," reads the tender document. 

President Ruto recently tasked the National Treasury to begin planning spending cuts on non-priority items to tame the country’s huge budget deficit. 

“I have instructed Treasury to work with ministries to find savings of Sh300 billion in this year’s budget,” said Dr Ruto in his maiden speech as President to the National Assembly. 

The Treasury plans to reduce spending by about Sh300 billion in the current fiscal year that started on July 1, an indication of deeper austerity measures for ministries, departments and state agencies, which have already been slapped with restrictions on non-essential expenditure. 

Hoteliers, traders in goods like stationery, consultants and civil servants will be among the hardest hit as the National Treasury moves to execute the austerity measures. 

The Treasury has since asked all State departments to do away with emoluments often accrued by workers in their line of duty. 

"Further to the discussions held between the National Treasury and MDAs (ministries, departments, and agencies), the government will control expenditures by initiating austerity measures on the provisions for the operations and maintenance. These measures will be undertaken in all MDAs, including semi-autonomous government agencies," said Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung'u in a memorandum to all heads of departments dated November 7. 

The restriction on hospitality services will hit hoteliers, who supply food and products like flower bouquets and garlands to State functions. 

The State is categorical that all meetings must be held in government boardrooms and not hotels. 

Hoteliers have warned that they might resort to job cuts if the directive is not rescinded. 

The government is the largest purchaser of consumer goods and services, offering livelihoods to millions of suppliers and small businesses across the country, according to official data. 

Every year, the State procures billions of shillings worth of products, equipment and services from across the sectors.

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