State House exceeds budget by Sh1 billion

 

Kenya's State House in Nairobi on October 25, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

State House has exceeded the budgetary allocation for the 2023/2024 financial year by Sh977 million, with two months left to the end of the financial year. 

The latest reports from the National Treasury on government spending indicate that State House has recorded Sh9.5 billion in recurrent expenditure in the first ten months of the 2023/2024 financial year, against a budget of Sh8.5 billion.

This is significantly higher than Sh4.6 billion in expenditure recorded between June and December last year, indicating that State House spent an average of Sh1.2 billion per month from January. Initially, the budget for State House for the 2023/2024 financial year was set at Sh6.3 billion. It was later revised to Sh8.5 billion in the first supplementary budget.

State House has further spent Sh1.2 billion on development expenditure, against an allocation of Sh1.3 billion for the current financial year, pushing the expenditure for the president’s residence to a record high.

In addition to the expenditure by the State House, the Executive Office of the President has been allocated Sh3.3 billion and Sh697 million in recurrent and development expenditures respectively.

According to the latest report by the Controller of Budget, the State House received the highest proportion of development expenditure against net estimates at 56 per cent. 

The president’s official residence was also the highest of government departments in the acquisition of non-financial assets, which includes the refurbishment of buildings, the purchase of vehicles, furniture and general equipment.

Out of Sh2.6 billion in total expenditure reported by all the ministries, departments and agencies under this category, the State House recorded the highest at Sh566.68 million, followed by the National Police Service at Sh477.17 million.

“The State Department for State House recorded the highest absorption of development budget at 58.4 per cent, while the State Department for Foreign Affairs recorded the lowest at 2.0 per cent,” said the Office of the Controller of Budget in its latest report.

“This is attributed to enhanced operation and maintenance expenses, refurbishment of buildings and other civil works,” the report added.

The latest expenditure figures come in the wake of criticism over the high bill Kenyan taxpayers are footing to fund the operations and travel budgets of the country’s executive.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and President William Ruto arrive at a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi. [PCS]

Currently, President William Ruto is on a four-day state visit to the United States that is expected to cost the taxpayer over Sh200 million largely on account of a privately-chartered jet for the head of state and his entourage. 

According to the Controller of Budget, the executive offices of the President, Deputy President and that of the Prime Cabinet Secretary spent Sh820 million cumulatively in travel in the six months ending in December 2023. 

Austerity measures

This represents an increase of more than 178 per cent compared to the figure spent by the president and his deputy over a similar period in 2022.

The record high expenditure recorded by the president has cast doubt on the government’s commitment on austerity measures.

“We must always remember that economic governance and management are underpinned and necessitated by the inescapable condition that resources are always limited, our development needs are many, and our strategies ambitious,” said President William Ruto during the National Wage Bill conference last month. 

At the conference that was overshadowed by a two-month strike by doctors, President Ruto spoke out against a “national fiscal culture” of high recurrent expenditure that eats into development expenditure and drives up national debt. 

“Following extensive consultations around the country, we agreed as the people of Kenya that this situation cannot continue. We have to stop living dangerously and beyond our means but instead tighten our belts and make necessary adjustments to make resources available for productive investment,” he said.

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