, NAIROBI, Kenya, 20 – Members of Parliament from the Defence and Foreign Relations committee have asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cut travel expenditure in order to operate within the allocated budget.
Appearing before the committee, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma raised concern over the Sh15.5 billion allocated to them for the 2019/2020 financial year saying it is not enough to keep the ministry’s operations running.
“You cannot prosecute foreign policies from your headquarters because there are things that my ambassadors would do and there others that I need to do myself; some of the things that are likely to be affected by this under-funding include travel, publishing, conferencing and missions which are seen as non-core,” she said.
In a quick rejoinder, several MPs argued that the ministry has been travelling a lot for missions which can be handled by Kenyan envoys in different countries and asked the ministry officials to ensure they only travel when it is necessary.
“It has come to a point where you need to look at your budget and see where you can do cuts because this time round, we need to live within our means and show Kenyans that indeed everyone is feeling the pinch,” said Saboti MP Caleb Amisi.
His sentiments were seconded by Mandera North MP Abdullahi Bashir Sheikh who asked the CS to only focus on foreign missions which are beneficial to the country.
“Despite the ambitious programs we have we cannot all get what we want; by giving your ministry what it requested, it may seem like we want you to live lavishly; so please work within the allocated budget and minimize unnecessary travels,” he said.
The CS however defended her ministry saying that foreign travel only accounts for only 10 per cent of the ministry’s budget.
“I do not think we are wasting money on travel. In fact, I think we need to travel more because most visits we do transact businesses and the travel budget is so little; figures do not lie and we are ready to submit these figures, the MFA budget has been flat over years,” Juma said.
The ministry had requested for Sh37.8 billion from the National Treasury for the 2019/2020 financial year.