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Ruto announces Sh11 billion slash in travel budget, corrects media reports

President William Ruto now says he slashed travel budget by Sh11 billion, corrects media's 500 million figure

President William Ruto

In a bid to uphold stringent austerity measures, President William Ruto has declared a substantial reduction in Kenya's travel budget, slashing Sh11 billion.

This move comes as a part of his administration's ongoing efforts to rein in government spending and prioritise the prudent use of public resources.

The announcement was made during the official opening of the Voi gemstone value addition and marketing center in Taita Taveta County.

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Ruto outlined the necessity for belt-tightening by directing all three arms of the government to reduce their travel budgets by 50%.

He emphasised that going forward, only foreign trips that demonstrate tangible benefits for Kenyan taxpayers will be approved.

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During his speech in Taita Taveta, President Ruto clarified that the travel budget cut amounted to Sh11 billion, in contrast to the Sh500 million initially reported.

“Nimepunguza ile pesa ya kurandaranda na kuzunguka....niliona watu wa gazeti jana wakisema eti nimepunguza na milioni mia tano....hapana, nimepunguza na bilioni kumi na moja,” said Ruto.

The decision to cut the travel budget comes amidst Kenyans' concerns surrounding Ruto's foreign trips, which have been reminiscent of his predecessor, former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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Many of these trips have drawn criticism for their substantial financial impact on Kenyan taxpayers.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta undertook 13 foreign trips between March 2013 and March 2014. In a longer tenure, former President Mwai Kibaki took 33 foreign visits in his 10-year presidency.

Since assuming office on September 13, 2022, President Ruto has embarked on 38 foreign visits, with his most recent journey taking him to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The frequency and cost of these trips have raised eyebrows and led to public calls for greater accountability in government spending.

For the year spanning July 2022 to June 2023, the total expenditure for the Presidency amounted to Sh20.1 billion, with foreign travel expenses accounting for Sh361.7 million.

Notably, the Office of the Deputy President reported foreign travel expenses of Sh40.7 million, while the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary spent Sh21.5 million on foreign travel.

Parliamentary travel also incurred substantial costs, amounting to Sh2.95 billion. County foreign travel expenses hit Sh2.13 billion, with total national travel expenditure totaling Sh20.3 billion.

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