The Interior ministry increased its entertainment budget 35 times in the year to June, defying an austerity drive to curb wastage.
Acting Controller of Budget (CoB) Stephen Masha says the ministry increased spending on parties and receptions in the period to Sh3.78 billion compared to only Sh106.4 million spent in a similar period a year earlier.
The rise comes amid an austerity push by the Treasury to free up cash for development and essential services such as health and education.
Expenditure on hospitality for the 73 ministries, State departments and agencies (MDAs) increased 52 percent to Sh9.8 billion compared to the Sh4.7 billion spent a year prior.
Interior ministry and the Presidency accounted for the largest share of the jump.
The data shows the Presidency, which comprises the offices of the President and the Deputy President, increased their entertainment budget to Sh2 billion from Sh1.4 billion a year earlier.
Other top spenders on parties during the period were the Treasury and the National Assembly, which increased their budgets 13 and 2.5 times respectively.
Treasury budget on entertainment in the period shot to Sh402 million compared to Sh30 million the previous year.
Lawmakers in the National Assembly splashed Sh278.1 million on parties in the year to June compared to the Sh105 million spent in the corresponding period the previous year.
The increases defy calls by the Treasury and President Uhuru Kenyatta for cuts on non-essential spending.
Last week, the Treasury announced what it called “brutal” cuts to spending, including on government officials’ foreign trips to curb the rising recurrent expenditure.
Acting Treasury secretary Ukur Yatani said all noncore expenditure will be reviewed to ensure the government can make savings and fund its programmes without relying too much on debt.
“The cuts will be brutal and sustained … because the success of this government will depend on our dignity as a country to be self-sufficient,” he told a public meeting to plan the budget for the next fiscal year.
The CoB data also shows spending on government officials’ overseas trips nearly doubled in the year to June to Sh6.4 billion.
More than 90 percent of ministries and other state-backed agencies increased their foreign travel spend after blowing Sh3.6 billion in the year to June 2017.
Foreign Affairs ministry and Parliament accounted for the largest share of the jump, underlining diplomats and lawmakers appetite for foreign travel.
The jet-setting ways of top officials have been criticised due to their huge delegations including what opposition leaders have called “quite a number of joy riders.”