The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has scrapped travel allowances for its staff attending sponsored events in a bid to tame the runaway costs of trips abroad.
The new austerity steps, contained in a circular from Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau and dated September 6, 2019, also applies to staff attending sponsored training and seminars in Kenya.
“It is the decision of the government that effective from September 1, 2019, officers going on sponsored activities either locally or abroad will no longer be entitled to Quarter Per Diem.” Mr. Macharia says in a circular addressed to all heads of missions, directorates and departments of the ministry.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma is one of the most expensive ministries and gobbles up billions annually.
Latest official data, compiled by the Controller of Budget, shows that the ministry spent Sh1.2 billion ($12 million) on trips abroad in the first nine months of 2018/19. That level of expenditure accounted for a quarter of the Sh4.2 billion ($42 million) that the 64 State departments and agencies blew on foreign trips.
The foreign affairs ministry also spent Sh189 million ($1.89 million) on domestic travel and Sh26 Million ($260,000) on training.
“Kindly ensure that all staff working under you are properly informed and that this requirement is strictly complied with,” adds Mr. Kamau.
Kenyan taxpayers spent Sh27 billion ($270 million) in the 2017/18 financial year on foreign trips, up from Sh24.9 billion ($249 million) the previous year, for national and county governments, according to a report by former Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo.
In some instances, workers in ministries spend huge chunks of money making merry while on duty abroad, then present receipts to the accounting officers to justify reimbursements.