No more bench-marking trips as gov’t announces new austerity measures
Published on: September 26, 2019 05:27 (EAT)
The government through the National Treasury has frozen bench-marking trips by ministries and their respective State departments in fresh austerity measures aimed at cutting on public spending. In a circular to all cabinet secretaries and accounting officers, Acting Treasury CS Ukur Yatani said the government had further capped the number of officers in government delegations for foreign travel to a maximum of four. “All bench-marking and study tours are immediately suspended until further notice,” reads part of the circular. “Delegations led by Cabinet Secretaries should not exceed four persons while those by Principal Secretaries/Chief Executives shall not exceed three members.” Yatani has also not spared miscellaneous expenditure in his new directive as the measures reign in on the provision of newspapers to staff and airtime deployment. Consequently, the current budget on the appropriation of newspapers shall be cut by three quarters while that on airtime spend comes down by 30 percent to encourage the use of internet calls and other cheaper alternatives. At the same time, Treasury has capped the acquisition of new spaces by ministries to guidelines set by the Infrastructure Ministry while trimming the value on new furniture purchases by 75 percent over the next three years. The measures are expected to be duplicated by counties. “The expenditure control measures outlined are aimed at enhancing prudent financial management by ensuring that we live within our means,” said the Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani. The new circular on ministerial spending is on the back of projections on painful budget cuts to the State actors as the National Treasury seeks to bridge the government’s dependency on borrowing to meet the recurring fiscal needs. Yatani’s initial squeeze on the ministries excessive spends has since garnered the backing of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) which expects fiscal consolidation to lead to the freeing up of monetary policy to better anchor economic output.