Ruto faults media on foreign travel budget cuts
President William Ruto left the country on October 28, 2023, for Brazzaville, Congo, to join other leaders from around the world at a climate conference, hours after he said that his Government had reduced the budget for his travels up to the tune of Sh11 billion as part of cost-cutting measures.
Speaking during the official opening of the Voi gemstone value addition and marketing center in Taita Taveta County, the Head of State directed that travel budgets for all three arms of government be slashed by 50 percent.
“Nimepunguza ile peaa ya kurandaranda na kuzunguka….niliona watu wa gazeti jana wakisema eti nimepunguza na milioni mia tano….hapana, nimepunguza na bilioni kumi na moja (I have reduced my budget for moving around. I saw the media saying I reduced by Sh500 million. I actually reduced by Sh11 billion),” said President Ruto.
He said the budget cuts affects the Executive, Judiciary, and the legislature.
The Head of State said that only foreign trips that bring direct and significant investment into the country will be approved.
President Ruto’s new government directive on foreign travel comes amid concerns over the number and priority of foreign trips he has made in barely a year and a half in office.
This is Dr Ruto’s 39th foreign trip since assuming office in September last year. The President has spent over Sh56 million on travel expenses in the first half of the financial year ending June 2024.
This is double the amount spent by the same office in a similar period in 2021, and four times more than his predecessor. Before this trip, he had visited 45 cities in 38 countries over 83 days.
In May this year, the National Assembly’s Defence Committee wanted the Budget and Appropriations Committee to allocate an additional Sh1.3 billion for Dr Ruto’s globe-trotting mission after the Treasury allocated only Sh700 million.
In Brazzaville, Congo, the president will be attending the three-day UN-coordinated conference called the Summit of the Three Basins, which ends on Saturday, and brings together leaders from the Congo, Amazon, and Borneo-Mekong-Southeast Asia basins.
The summit, the first of its kind to be convened, aims to implement “the first global coalition to restore 350 million hectares of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems”.
The Summit brings together Heads of State, Official Delegations, Government Representatives, International institutions, Donors, Financing Organisations, and Experts to strengthen governance for the three regulatory ecosystems, its official website says.
The trip to Congo Brazzaville comes days after President Ruto told Chinese investors he had the approval of the Presidents of Uganda, DR Congo and Congo Brazzaville to extend the Standard Gauage Railway line from the Port of Mombasa to Congo Brazzaville.
President Ruto is seeking funding for the project from China and other investors.