Ruto to splash Sh1.55b on State Houses, lodges renovations

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

President William Ruto plans to spend Sh1.558 billion on the renovation of State Houses and State lodges in the next financial amid dire economic hardships.

When the State House Budget proposal was presented lawmakers criticised the planned recurrent expenditure of Sh7.93 billion in the 2024/2025 financial year.

The Sh1.558 billion is part of a twelve-year Sh11.5 billion plan by the government to refurbish three State Houses in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru, as well as six state lodges and completion of four other civil works within the facilities.

According to documents tabled before the National Assembly Committee on Administration and Internal Security, the implementation of the 13 projects began in July 2015 and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2027.

In the coming 2024/25 financial year, Sh250 million has been set aside for the refurbishment of buildings at Nairobi State House, Sh50 million for the purchase of specialised plant, equipment and machinery, Sh100 million for the purchase of ICT networking and communications equipment and a further Sh500 million for civil works.

At Mombasa State House, Sh240 million has been allocated for refurbishment of a fence and the main State House while at Nakuru State House Sh200 million has been dedicated towards refurbishment of buildings.

The President is also keen on renovating State lodges starting with Eldoret State Lodge where a refurbishment of buildings will cost Sh125 million. Sagana State Lodge will use Sh35 million for refurbishment, Kisumu state Lodge Sh14.9 million, Kakamega state Lodge Sh15 million whereas Mtito Andei state Lodge has been allocated Sh5 million.

A further Sh19 million will be spent on Kisii State Lodge. There are also plans to spend Sh4.8 million on the States mechanical garage in Kiambu/Ruiru.

The committee led by Gabriel Tongoyo however raised concerns over the slow pace of renovations arguing that the cost of the projects would eventually surge due to price variations over the years.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma sought to know whether non-essential renovations would be halted to allow the funds to be channeled to other state agencies that require funds.

“How far are the works? In every budget whether supplementary or main, the renovation budget of state houses is listed with tens of millions allocated. I doubt whether this is prudent and in your own houses you can be renovating at this rate,” Kaluma said.

He added, “Given the current economic situation, which reductions can be made on this amount of renovation or which can be halted so that other state government agencies can be allowed to run on development?”

State House Comptroller Katoo Ole Metito however explained that the protracted completion period of the renovation projects was occasioned by the delayed exchequer releases.

“Yes it is true these renovations can almost translate into new projects.... When you see these monies given to routine maintenance are slashed when the budget is revised. If all monies are given as required by the exchequer, the budget will not be carried to the following financial year,” Metito said. The parliamentary committee considering the State House’s main budget also queried its recurrent expenditure.

“The indication of the recurrent expenditure alone is roughly Sh8 billion, which is the recurrent expenditure of the Judiciary, an arm of government. What can we do to enable the President to have more money for other necessary priorities apart from this?” posed Kaluma.

Metito however disclosed that the recurrent expenditure had hit the roof over the years with huge expenditure on recurrent expenditure being utilized on wages and the purchase of goods and services.

Metito also revealed that since President Ruto assumed office, his administration has been hosting several heads of state and delegations to streamline and forge support for his government.

“Our biggest challenge is recurrent expenditure which goes to hospitality majorly. The number of delegations his excellency has been hosting since he got into office continental and regionally is high,” he stated.