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How Covid rules saved taxpayers Sh5b

By Hillary Mageka
Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o. Photo/PD/File

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Travel and other restrictions imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and austerity measures on non-essentials saved taxpayers Sh5.5 billion.

As the government saved on non-essentials, expenditures on personnel emoluments shot from Sh315.8 billion to Sh358.4 billion over the period.

The expenditure represents 43.9 per cent of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) gross recurrent expenditure.

This is according to the National Government Budget Implementation Review Report for the first nine months of the 2020/21 financial year by Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o.

Report shows that expenses on travel, hospitality, training, printing, legal fees and maintenance of motor vehicles reduced marginally during the period between March 31, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

“Some budget items such as travelling, training and hospitality activities, which are some of the MDA major spending budget items recorded low levels of expenditure, which was attributed to the impact of Covid-19 mitigation measures adopted by the government to curb the spread of the disease,” the report.

During the period under review, expenditures on domestic and foreign travel by ministries, departments and agencies dropped significantly from Sh12.81 billion last year to Sh9.24 billion.

“Decline is attributed to containment measures put in place by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19” the report adds. 

Local, domestic and foreign travels are often used by State and public officers as a gravy grain to take home fat allowances over and above their attractive salaries, thus increasing operating costs.

Parliament, which has been criticised by the public and lobby groups for pocketing millions of shilling in allowances whenever they travel, spent Sh4.7 billion compared to Sh6.43 billion spent the same period the year before.

Highest spenders

The Senate and the National Assembly spent Sh202.57 million on hospitality, Sh107.5 million on training and 89.98 million on printing compared with Sh191.9 million, Sh215.1 million and 80.1 million on hospitality, training and printing and advertising respectively.

The Ministry of Foreign, which of late has emerged the highest spenders after the Presidency posted Sh1.13 billion expenditure on both domestic and foreign travel compared to Sh1.69 billion last year.

The Raychelle Omamo-led ministry spent Sh285.88 million on hospitality, Sh6.03 million on training and Sh21.09 million printing advertising.

The Presidency, which comprises the President’s office, the Deputy President’s office and the Cabinet incurred Sh455 million on travel against Sh791 million incurred the year before.

It incurred Sh843 million on hospitality, Sh36.28 million on training and Sh43.26 million on printing and advertising.

The office of the Auditor General, whose staff travel across the country to scrutinise expenditures of public funds, spent Sh386.1 million on local travel and 1.01 million on trips overseas.

The Teachers Service Commission was the single largest spender on training with Sh714.48 million to train teachers.

For the first nine months, the giant ministry of Interior, which includes Government administration and coordination, spent Sh992.48 million on trips.

The ministry spent another Sh414.14 million on hospitality, Sh125.32 million on training and Sh4.58 million during the three months under review.

Analysis of recurrent expenditure shows that a total of Sh354.45 billion was spent on compensation to employees representing 43.9 per cent of the gross recurrent expenditure by MDAs.

TSC recorded the highest expenditure on compensation to employees at Sh206 billion, translating to 57.3 per cent of total expenditure on compensation to employees by the national government.

“This is attributed to the fact that the bulk of TSC’s budget is for teachers’ salaries,” the report states.

In total, the expenditure by the national government Sh676.67 billion on recurrent and of Sh334.54 billion on development over the period.

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