Members of the County Assemblies (MCAs) spent Sh6.58 billion on foreign and domestic travel in the first half of the fiscal year, official data shows, making it the highest so far in a similar period since the start of devolution.
The Controller of Budget (CoB) report for the first half of the year shows that this was a one percent rise from Sh6.51 billion spent in a similar period in the 2018/19.
The spending on travel by MCAs in the first half of a fiscal year has now grown nearly three times from Sh2.8 billion in 2013.
The record spending on travel perks by MCAs came at a time the High Court scrapped a decision by Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s (SRC) to cut on State officers’ benefits.
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o flagged non-core spending that includes travel and breach of sitting allowances saying it continues to deny funds to service delivery in counties.
“The office recommends that county governments should ensure expenditure on personnel emoluments is contained at sustainable levels and in compliance with Regulation 25 (1) (b) of the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015,” says Dr Nyakang’o in the report.
Foreign travel, which is normally labelled as benchmarking trips rose by 14 percent to Sh943.42 million in from Sh826.42 million from a similar period in the 2018/19 period, reflecting the growing appetite by MCAs for the trips outside the country.
At Sh6.58 billion, counties spent more than a quarter of the Sh15.33 billion they raised in own revenues like parking fees, rates and business permits in the first half of the year underlining how MCAs perks have hurt the delivery of basic services like health and roads.
President Uhuru Kenyatta raided the travel budget of the national and county governments and directed that the funds be reallocated to fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
Kajiado County has already reallocated Sh25 million from the travel kitty of MCAs and the executive that will now be used to set up six modern isolation units in all sub-county hospitals.
The county departments and MCAs relinquished Sh17 million and Sh8 million respectively from their travel votes to the health department kitty in budgetary changes approved by the county assembly last Wednesday.
The kitty is part of the Sh135 million approved by the MCAs to fix several medical gaps exposed by the ravages of Covid-19 pandemic in the county.
Kenyan Business Feed is the top Kenyan Business Blog. We share news from Kenya and across the region. To contact us with any alert, please email us to [email protected]