NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 7 – The Foreign Affairs Ministry is alarmed by the actions of counties abroad, one of which has gone to the extent of opening an office in a foreign country, and made pledges that could have major consequences.
In what is likely to create a new storm with County Governments, the ministry is also worried that some of the trips made by Governors, Members of County Assemblies and other executives may end up undermining the “interests and image” of Kenya abroad, due to their conduct.
“In some instance, a county has already opened a Representative Office abroad and gone ahead to make commitments that could have serious ramifications,” it said, without naming the county.
The ministry says it has received disturbing reports touching on the activities and/or conduct of some County Government delegations which may in the end undermine the interests and image of not only their own, but that of missions and the entire government in enhancing relations and promotion of investment.
The concerns are contained in a letter to Principal Secretaries in key government ministries by Ambassador E. M Barine who is the Director, Liaison (Parliamentary and County Affairs).
The letter warns that although most of the trips are modelled around investment opportunities, they could easily dent Kenya’s image due to poor coordination.
“The message taken out there, including on investment facilities, funding for county projects could erode the credibility Kenya has built over a long period as a trusted investment destination,” the letter states, while at the same time calling for urgent measures to address the matter.
County governments have been taking delegations to foreign countries on trips, some funded by tax payer’s money, while others are reported to have been footed by political parties or their affiliates abroad.
“While the ministry may not have recorded of all these visits and their output, it seems they are touristic in nature,” the confidential letter also sent to the Solicitor General and Comptroller of Budget states.
The ministry wants urgent measures taken to develop “some guidelines to deal with the issue”.
In some cases cited, the ministry says, it has had to deal with what it describes as “disturbing actions” by county government officials whenever they travel abroad without the knowledge of missions or embassies which are supposed to coordinate such trips.
The huge number of delegations taken abroad at any one time by the county governments is another issue of concern to the ministry.
“The sheer number including up to 70 persons on a study/benchmarking visit is contemptible to the host,” the ministry notes, adding that in most cases embassies and missions abroad are notified it is already to late.
“When called upon, it is on a last minute basis, which does not enhance synergy nor reflect well for the image of this country,” it added.