Concern as Ruto, Gachagua offices exhaust annual budget despite austerity promise
Questions have been raised over the Kenyan government’s honesty and its commitment to enforcing austerity measures as the National Assembly prepares to debate a KES 5 billion supplementary budget for the Office of the President. The presidency, which includes the Office of the President and that of the Deputy President, is one of the best-funded institutions in the country.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Professor Njuguna Ndung’u has revealed that President William Ruto and his Deputy have already exhausted their annual budget of KES 8.64 billion four months before the end of the current financial year.
According to records from the National Treasury, the presidency went on a spending spree in December last year, withdrawing KES 2.2 billion against a monthly average of KES 1.2 billion.
Expenses by William Ruto State House have more than doubled to KES 8.85 billion from KES 4.37 billion that had been approved under former President Kenyatta, according to records from the National Treasury. At the same time, the budget for the office of the Deputy President rose to KES 2.63 billion.
This increase in expenditure by the two offices comes as the prices of essential food commodities such as maize flour and cooking oil rise by the day, with 4.3 million Kenyans facing starvation as a drought continues to devastate counties.
Gachagua said during the inauguration that they have inherited a dilapidated economy facing almost an economic shutdown, with a KES 10 trillion public debt, 6 million Kenyans having no employment, 14 million Kenyans in CRB, and a demoralized public service.
Ironically, the increased expenditure by the two offices coincided with Ruto’s directive to government departments last year to slash expenses by KES 300 billion to minimize reliance on borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure. This has led to concerns about the government’s commitment to enforcing austerity measures and its honesty about the state of the country’s finances.
In what many see as a slap in the face of Kenyans, Ruto and Gachagua are now asking for an additional KES 5.18 billion in the supplementary budget already before Parliament, which will push their expenditure to KES 13.83 billion, an increase of about 60 percent. This has raised concerns about the government’s priorities, given the country’s dire economic situation and the number of Kenyans facing starvation.
“It’s not a simple assignment, it’s not an easy thing to do, but I promise you we will do it because it’s the right thing to do,” Ruto said on cutting costs.
However, the presidency expenditure seems to contradict this promise, leading many Kenyans to question the government’s commitment to responsible spending and accountability.