Curb top officials’ wasteful spending

Monday November 13 2017

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Runaway public expenditure remains the bane of national planning and resource use.

It is particularly disheartening when the expenses are incurred on non-priority areas, negating all austerity measures aimed at securing financial stability.

Precisely, this is a subject of concern to Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, who in a new report, indicates that the national and county governments splurged some Sh28 billion last financial year on local and foreign trips, whose value has yet to be ascertained.

Most of the trips are essentially conduits for siphoning out cash from the Exchequer.

Many government departments and county authorities are notorious, especially for the so-called benchmarking trips; where officials are sent abroad to learn from other experiences and share with the rest locally to enhance productivity.

Never, however, are those benchmarking experiences shared to benefit a large segment of society.

In other words, they are meaningless and wasteful. They gobble funds that could be used for development.


Yet, the National Treasury has put a caveat on non-priority expenses such as travel, which it wants cut by 30 per cent to free cash for capital development.

The greatest obstacle expenses is the mindset of some top government and county officials, who believe they should not be questioned about cash use.

In an attempt to provide example and perhaps change mindset, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, announced in 2014 they would take a 20-per cent pay cut.


This was to demonstrate that tough measures were crucial to cut excess expenditures and that all public officers ought to make sacrifices for the common good.

It is too early to determine its success but the objective was noble.

The point is that we must make sacrifices in managing public funds.

County governments, just like the national government, must critically review and cut non-core expenses, including travel.

It is extremely absurd when counties cry over lack of funds while at the same time reporting unjustified expenditures.

Financial discipline is a must if the county and national governments are to operate optimally.