Ruto's Costly Foreign Trips Hamper Pledge to Cut Budget by Ksh 300B – Analysts

  • President William Ruto’s pledge to slash Ksh300 billion from the budget to relieve Kenya’s spending and borrowing pressures are likely to be hampered by a number of foreign trips.

    Just over 70 days in office, President Ruto made over 10 foreign trips, with the recent one being in the US following an invitation from President Joe Biden.

    However, analysts argue the series of foreign trips will be detrimental to his bid to slash the budget by Ksh300 billion, which he promised during a joint parliamentary sitting.

    “I have instructed Treasury to work with Ministries to find at least Ksh300 billion in this year’s budget so that we can remove it because the market cannot sustain the kind of borrowing we are doing as a government,” Ruto stated.

    PResident William Ruto with US President Joe Biden

    President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel meet US President Joe Biden at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) in New York, USA on September 23, 2022.

    People Daily

    Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, tax and governance expert Sam Okumu, maintained that Ruto’s trips were placing the National Treasury in a fix.

    The National Treasury, led by Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u, was tasked with implementing the financial policies.

    According to Okumu, Ruto’s entourage contribute to increased funds splashed by the government to fund the cross border travel. On most occasions, Ruto travels in chartered flights and receives presidential escorts while overseas.

    “When evaluating the cost, we look at his entourage. If he is accompanied by MPs who are not in any way related to the trip also contributes to the ballooning travelling cost,” he told Kenyans.co.ke.

    During former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime, Data from the Controller of Budget (CoB) indicated that the Presidency had splashed over Ksh63.6 million on foreign trips just three months after the pandemic in 2020.

    The figure exceeded by over Ksh6 billion, which had been spent during a similar period in 2019.

    The tax expert, however, insisted that Ruto needed to lead by example by slashing the number of foreign trips. Alluding to a case in Tanzania, Okumu stated that President Samia Suluhu Hassan avoids some trips to relieve the country from inflation pressure.

    “It is all about taking the lead while implementing some of these policies. Because how can he institute reforms and fail to abide by them?” Okumu posed.

    “The excuse of going out there to look for funds contradicts his policies which he adopted during campaigns. He made it clear that he would avoid external borrowings totally; it is like speaking from both sides of the mouth,” Okumu stated while castigating the head of state for neglecting his policies.

    Treasury Proposed Plan to Meet Ruto’s Target

    Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u at a past event

    Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u at a past event


    CS Ndung’u had proposed to slash money allocated to overseas travel, training, and purchases of furniture and motor vehicles.

    They were among the departments hit by Ruto’s Ksh300 billion austerity plan on the expenditures of ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) in the 2022/2023 financial year.

    He also effected a 75 per cent cut on the remaining budgets on communication services, domestic travel, advertising and printing, hospitality, and vehicle rentals.

    Ndung’u further effected a 75 per cent cut on research and feasibility study budgets, underlining the depth of the recurrent expenditure rationalisation programme that is targeted at freeing up cash for other more critical projects such as healthcare, education, and food security. 

    In a past interview, Abraham Rugo, the International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBPK) country manager, indicated that Ruto would fail in his austerity plan if the treasury withdraws funds from critical sectors such as agriculture and transport.

    “The only time budget cuts can be bad is when they touch on these programmes. But when there is fiscal consolidation, they are normally the ones affected. It is not clear whether the budget saving will be cut completely or re-assigning,” Rugo remarked.

Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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