Taxpayers save Sh5.5bn on junkets as wage bill rises

Expenditures on personnel emolument shot by Sh42.6 billion

In Summary
  • The Teachers Service Commission was the single biggest spender on training with Sh714.48 million to train teachers.
  • For the first nine months, the ministry of Interior, which includes government administration and coordination, spent Sh992.48 million on trips.
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o

Taxpayers saved in excess of Sh5.5 billion on non-essential activities by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic period, according to the latest expenditure report.

However, the budget implementation review report by Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o shows a skyrocketing wage bill and shrinking development expenditure by the government.

The report shows that expenditures 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.

This can majorly be attributed to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed to check the spread of the virus though austerity measures by the National Treasury, could also have played part.

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

“The decline is attributed to containment measures put in place by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19,” the report says.

Public officials see travel 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.

The bicameral Parliament spent Sh202.57 million on hospitality, Sh107.5 million on training and 89.98 million on printing compared to Sh191.9 million, Sh215.1 million and 80.1 million on hospitality, training and printing and advertising respectively the previous year.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs—the other biggest spender on travels—posted Sh1.13 billion expenditure on both domestic and foreign travel compared to Sh1.69 billion last year.

The 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 Sh843.00 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 Sh386.10 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 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.

Soon after the Covid-19 hit the country in March last year, the government imposed stringent measures including on passenger flights, closure of hotels and lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

But while the government saves on non-essentials, expenditures on personnel emolument—salaries and wages— shot by Sh42.6 billion, from Sh315.8 billion last the year to Sh358.4 billion during the period under review.

The expenditure represents 43.9 per cent of the MDAs gross recurrent expenditure.

The figure, however, does not include salaries for key departments under Ministry of Defence and National Intelligence Services.

“Teachers Service Commission recorded the highest expenditure at Sh206.0 billion representing 57.3 per cent of the total expenditure on compensation to employees,” the report says.

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

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

-Edited by SKanyara