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November 14, 2018

Foreign relations committee defends Uhuru's trips, suggests 8 counties

President Uhuru Kenyatta during a meeting with China Communications Construction Company officials in South Africa last Thursday, ahead of the  Forum for China-Africa Cooperation that  took place in Johanessaburg at the weekend. Photo/PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta during a meeting with China Communications Construction Company officials in South Africa last Thursday, ahead of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation that took place in Johanessaburg at the weekend. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta has to travel abroad to sell Kenya's ideologies, the Foreign relations committee has said regarding complaints of too many expensive trips.

Chairman and Tetu MP Ndung'u Gethenji suggested cutting the number of counties from 47 to eight to reduce government expenditure.

Gethenji said most economic burdens are resolved by re-evaluating constitutional issues including the number of leaders.

“Countries with bigger economies than Kenya have fewer regional leaders and they still deliver. We will afford more when we start selling oil to the world," he told the media on Monday.

It became apparent that Uhuru's trips have strained the Presidency’s budget in January when Treasury CS Henry Rotich sought Parliament’s approval for an extra Sh50 million to cater for his local trips.

Official data shows the Presidency has exceeded its recurrent budget allocation for the fiscal year ending June 30 by Sh300 million, with travel spending as the main driver.

Uhuru has toured 43 countries since taking office in April 2013. His predecessor Mwai Kibaki made 33 foreign tours in 10 years.

State House justified the President's trips and the number of people in his delegations saying top negotiators help Kenya secure the best deals.

Spokesman Manoah Esipisu highlighted several deals including one worth $200 million (Sh20.4 billion) with the World Bank for the supply of clean water to the long-suffering residents of Mombasa.

He noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping offered Kenya 1,000 scholarships for university students wishing to study in China and $1.5 billion (Sh153 billion) for an industrial park in Naivasha.

China also offered an RMB300 million (Sh4.8 billion) fund for a conference facility in the Foreign Affairs ministry, he added in a briefing on Sunday.

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