We must not relent in bid to cut expenditure

Tuesday February 16 2016

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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s push for a 50 per cent cut on travel and others perks by national and county governments signals a desire to contain the runaway public sector spending and simultaneously free cash for capital development.

At a time of declining economic performance and when revenue collections are dwindling and many projects pending, austerity measures are inevitable. The public sector is notorious for extravagance.

Top officials of the national and county governments spend so much money on unnecessary travel, meetings and activities that have little bearing on the lives of Kenyans. It is questionable, for example, why a Cabinet secretary, principal secretary or governor should be travelling in a convoy of vehicles, tagging along a retinue of aides.

Equally critical is the value of the numerous trips by the top government officials and members of Parliament. As a practice, assignments that ought to be carried out in the office are done out of station in posh hotels.

Every so often, groups travel abroad for the so-called benchmarking, even for things that are pretty obvious.

Not only are these a waste of public resources, but also a waste of valuable time that should otherwise be spent on some constructive ventures. But this campaign is not new.

A couple of years ago, in fact, when Mr Kenyatta was Finance minister, he outlawed the use of four-wheel vehicles, insisting that ministers and all top dogs had to use small vehicles to reduce the government’s travel costs.

However, this was implemented for a year or two and things reversed to normal. Thus, it is questionable if the campaign will succeed this time round.

Even so, an economy cannot grow when the bulk of its revenue goes to recurrent expenditures, especially travel and personal emoluments.

President Kenyatta’s drive for cut-backs on social costs to free money for capital development is justifiable and should be pushed to the logical end.