Government should take its austerity measures seriously

President William Ruto is hosting Cabinet Secretaries and Kenya Kwanza lawmakers for an Executive Retreat in Naivasha, Nakuru County. [PCS]

The government is preaching water and drinking wine. On the one hand, it would want Kenyans to believe that things are thick - which is true - and therefore they must tighten their belts, stay calm as they are taxed heavily, and hope for better times ahead.

On the other hand, the government, which has on many occasions issued all manner of edicts, ordering spending cuts in the Executive, ministries and departments, is still profligate.

This extravagance is currently on display in Naivasha where Cabinet secretaries and Kenya Kwanza lawmakers have been booked into luxurious hotels and are busy spending the barely available resources that the country has.

This comes as large State-owned facilities across the country, such as Kenya International Convention Centre and the Kenya School of Government, where the retreat could have taken place at a bargain, lie idle.

This retreat is just one of the many avenues through which taxpayer funds are being spent with abandon even as the State preaches austerity.

A new report by the Controller of Budget noted that travel costs for different State agencies went up by Sh3 billion to Sh11 billion over the first six months of the current financial year (July – December).

Never mind that the National Treasury last year halved the travel budget for ministries, departments and agencies and limited the officials who can travel by air on domestic routes and also banned non-essential tea, lunch and water for civil servants.

Kenyans are yet to forget that our country had one of the largest delegations to the Cop28 towards the end of last year. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kenya had 763 delegates in Dubai, the twelfth largest national delegation.

And while President William Ruto has led from the front in calling State officers to put in place austerity measures, he could also be said to be leading from the front in disregarding the austerity calls going by his frequent travels that have increased the government’s travel budget. It is important that he leads by translating his words into action.

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