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Kenya to spend USD12m to buy ambassador’s residence in Geneva

Apart from the purchase cost, Kenyan tax payers also have to shoulder for the cost of servicing and maintaining the property in the long term.

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the purchase plan public last year.
  • The property is located n the posh resort city of Lake Geneva in Switzerland
  • For the past 40 years, Kenya’s diplomatic mission in Geneva has rented space, costing taxpayers Sh4 billion.

Treasury data tabled in the National Assembly last week shows the government has allocated Sh1 billion ($10m) for the purchase of chancery and ambassador’s residence in Geneva and another Sh200 million for the year starting July 2019.

In 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the purchase plan public, saying it had identified the property in the posh resort city of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

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The ministry said it needed Sh6 billion for purchase of the Geneva property in a deal that was to be paid in phases and it is not clear whether Kenya opted for a smaller property or the Sh1.2 billion to be spent is part of phased payment.

Parliament has questioned the deal’s pricing, arguing that it was ill advised coming at a time of pressing national issues and austerity measures.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, maintained that the decision to buy the property was cheaper in the long run and informed by the need to cut the cost of renting buildings in the diplomatic hub that hosts Europe’s UN headquarters and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world and the average price of a loaf of bread is $6.62 and a bottle of wine costs $8.20 according to Economist Intelligence Unit's annual Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2017.

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For the past 40 years, Kenya’s diplomatic mission in Geneva has rented space, costing taxpayers Sh4 billion, according to ministry officials.

Former Foreign Affairs secretary Amina Mohamed in March last year told MPs the ministry was paying Sh140 million per year in rent.

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