Taxpayers’ cash that goes to offices of the First Lady and the wife of the Deputy President William Ruto has more than tripled since the Jubilee administration assumed office in 2013.
Treasury will allocate Sh723.6 million to the offices of the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Racheal Ruto in the year starting July with salaries for the aides, travel and entertainment taking the bulk of the budget.
The two received Sh187.3 million in the year starting 2013 when the Kenyatta administration assumed power, reflecting a growth of 286 percent.
Mrs Kenyatta’s office budget has increased from Sh114.4 million to Sh426.1 million while that of the Deputy President’s spouse has increased from Sh72.9 million to Sh297 in the period under review.
The increase in allocation to Mrs Ruto’s and the First Lady’s offices was put under recurrent expenditure such as paying supplies, travel expenses and staff salaries including aides.
The increase comes amid calls by the Treasury and President Uhuru Kenyatta for cuts on non-essential spending like catering and travel.
Top government officials are no longer allowed to travel outside the country without clearance from the president. Domestic travel is also keenly scrutinised.
The directive is a result of funding gaps following reduced activity in the economy and protest over tax increases that led to the halving of VAT on fuel to eight per cent, prompting proposed cuts to the government’s spending plan across the board.
Government revenue in the first nine months of the current financial year fell short of target by Sh97.7 billion, forcing the Treasury to cut budgeted funds for development projects by nearly Sh34.37 billion.
Due to economic slowdown, listed firm have issued profit warnings, frozen hiring and expansion on the factory floors.
Salaries for Mrs Ruto’s staff of Sh126.1 million will account for 42 per cent of the Sh297.4 budget allocated to the office.
The pay for the aides, entertainment budget or hospitality expenses as well as foreign and domestic travel budgets of Sh268 million will account for 90 per cent of the allocation.
Mrs Ruto has reduced her public activities. Her pet project is empowering poor women through business training and organising them into saccos to deepen financial inclusion.
The hospitality expenses at Sh191 million or 45 percent of the Sh426 million will consume the bulk of First Lady’s budget.
This together with travel and pay for the aides will eat 78 per cent of the budget.
Mrs Kenyatta is known for a Beyond Zero Campaign that targets to improve maternal and child healthcare in the country.