Airborne UhuRuto increase foreign trips after winning re-election
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, increased their foreign travel costs five times in the nine months to March, marking their return to making trips abroad after the 2017 General Election campaigns.
Data from the Controller of Budget (CoB) shows the Presidency — occupied Mr Kenyatta and his deputy — spent Sh190 million in the nine months compared to only Sh36.5 million in the same period of a year earlier when Kenya was in the middle of two presidential elections.
The drop in the foreign travel bill last year was linked to the campaign period when the Presidency focused more on domestic tours to woo voters.
Kenya had a prolonged and volatile electioneering period due to repeat presidential polls in October ordered by the Supreme Court after the August 8 poll was found to be irregular.
But the latest numbers indicate that Mr Kenyatta and his deputy have increased their count of foreign trips since their re-election.
President Kenyatta, who has lately been on foreign travel spree, was in Tanzania last week. He has, however, cut down on his domestic travels since his re-election and eventual handshake with Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Mr Ruto, on the other hand, has intensified his domestic travels, causing discomfort among a section of the ruling Jubilee coalition who are opposed to his 2022 presidential bid.
The CoB data shows the overall spend on domestic travel fell to Sh420 million in the first nine months of 2018/19 compared to Sh432m the previous year.
Since he came to power in 2013, Mr Kenyatta has pushed for austerity measures across the board, promising deeper cuts on non-essential items like travel and entertainment.
Mr Kenyatta’s frequent foreign trips in the first three years of his first term in office attracted debate and criticism.
State House has in the past been forced to defend Mr Kenyatta’s frequent trips abroad, arguing that most of them had potential to attract investments.
Expenditure on foreign travel for the 64 ministries, departments and agencies increased 38.6 per cent to Sh4.2 billion in the nine months on the back of increased trips abroad by MPs.