Kenya: Big Shocker for DP William Ruto as Budget is Almost Halved

Though Deputy President William Ruto is not the only one affected in the Budget cuts, he is among top officials in the Executive with the steepest cuts in the 2020/21 spending plan, which will see the government spend a total of Sh2.7 trillion.

Deputy President William Ruto will have a rough year after his budget was slashed by over 40 per cent.

In another major onslaught to cut him to size and stop the second in command from using taxpayers' money to move around the country, the Treasury has shrunk his total budget allocation from Sh2.4 billion to Sh1.4 billion in the new financial year.

Though he is not the only one affected in the budget cuts, he is among top officials in the Executive with the steepest cuts in the 2020/21 spending plan, which will see the government spend a total of Sh2.7 trillion.

For instance, whereas the Cabinet affairs budget had initially been reduced to Sh1.4 billion from Sh2.8 billion this year, it has since been revised upwards to Sh2.2 billion, translating to a 21 per cent cut.

The State House Affairs budget, also within the presidency, will in the new fiscal year receive a total of Sh3.8 billion, down from Sh5.4 billion in the current year. This translates to a 29 per cent cut.

The presidency has scrapped some offices, which explains part of the drop in its budget.

However, some of DP Ruto's budget lines were cut by as much as 87 per cent.

The DP's domestic travel, subsistence and other transportation costs have been slashed by half from Sh193.6 million to Sh96.8 million, in what will likely reduce his movements across the country.

The movements have earned him and his allies the Tangatanga tag. He was seen as using these movements to drum up support for his presidential bid, a move that did not sit well with his competitors.

His foreign travel and subsistence budget has been cut by 62.4 per cent, from Sh89.6 million to Sh33.6 million. The vote on rentals and produced assets was also squeezed from Sh150.6 million to Sh47 million, a 68.7 percent cut.

His hospitality budget, which is used to entertain guests and throw parties, was the biggest casualty in the budget cuts, after it was reduced by 87.8 per cent from Sh197.9 million to Sh23.9 million.

The fuel budget for the Office of the Deputy President was halved from Sh28.4million to Sh14.2 million while other operating expenses were reduced by 66 per cent from Sh307.3 million to Sh103.6 million.

As the DP's budget was being shaved, the office of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has for the first time received a full-year budget allocation alongside other offices of former Presidents and vice-presidents.

In the new financial year, Treasury has allocated Sh71.9 million to Mr Odinga, the current leader of the Opposition. Last year, his budget had to be squeezed in during the second Supplementary Budget.

In the budget, Mr Odinga's office will get Sh10 million for basic wages for temporary employees.

He will also receive Sh20 million to take care of insurance costs, Sh26 million for purchase of vehicles and Sh10 million for furniture.

This ends the long-running dispute that saw his office denied a budget, as he was said to be in active politics and had not retired.

It also shows the softening stance following his improved relations with President Uhuru Kenyatta — both are championing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The BBI, which is expected to end in a referendum, has, however, strained the relationship between the President and his deputy, and is threatening to split the ruling Jubilee Party.

Even though the government has indicated that it is keen on reducing its recurrent expenditure as part of austerity measures announced by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani last year, the fact that DP Ruto's budget has suffered deeper cuts compared with others across the presidency may point to the next battlefront for the DP — control of resources.

The development budget for the Office of the Deputy President was also not spared after it was cut from Sh68 million in the 2019/20 estimates to Sh18 million in the budget statement to be read today.

At the end of the cuts, the DP's office lost at least Sh988 million compared with what it was allocated in the current financial year.

Treasury had earlier tabled a budget that reduced the total presidency budget from Sh11.6 billion to Sh6.4 billion, in line with the lean times.

But it later presented a quick revision, this time increasing it to Sh36.6 billion to factor in the allocation for the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), which is now under the presidency. This is a 4.6 times increase in the budget.

But the revision did not affect DP Ruto's budget.

Mr Yatani said the revision was meant to take care of unforeseen events that cropped up after his initial budget and factored in the Sh53 billion stimulus package.

"We have revised the Budget Policy Statement which we presented to Parliament in February because it was done before the coronavirus pandemic hit us. The economy requires a different approach from the one we had in February," he said in an interview with the Nation.

Treasury has allocated NMS Sh26.4 billion. Another Sh1.5 billion was given to the Mukuru Renewal Project, also under NMS.

The presidency will also oversee the Kazi Mtaani programme in Nairobi, which will receive Sh1.1 billion.

In total, NMS will receive Sh28.4 billion from the national government, which will be broken into Sh18 billion for recurrent and Sh10.3 billion for development expenditure. This will be over and above what the Nairobi County government will receive under the county allocations.

The Budget has also reorganised the recurrent expenditure of the presidency to reflect ongoing changes at State House.

For example, the entire recurrent budget of the President's Delivery Unit has been scrapped. In the current financial year, the office had been given a recurrent vote of Sh143.2 million.

Also chopped was the recurrent budget for the Office of Budget Management, which had been allocated Sh23.1 million in the current budget.

The Office of Performance Management and Coordination was also scrapped, going out with a budget of Sh45.3 million. Also losing its budget is the Office of the Government Spokesperson, which had initially been allocated Sh39.6 million.

Treasury also officially stopped disbursing money to the late President Daniel arap Moi, who was receiving Sh114.3million a year. Former President Mwai Kibaki will receive Sh113.5 million in the new financial year, a small cut from the Sh133.9 million he received this year.

In total, Cabinet Affairs will consume Sh2.2 billion of the presidency's budget, government advisory services will take Sh704 million, while State House has been allocated Sh3.8 billion.

The Budget document lists the presidency's key outputs as providing oversight of the country's development agenda in line with enabling the Big Four development initiatives and maintaining socio-economic stability for sustainable growth.

Others are improvement of State houses and lodges and the DP's official residences, administration of statutory benefits to retired Presidents, vice-presidents and other State officers, facilitating the programmes of the First Lady and the spouse to the DP and facilitating collaboration in the government's legislative and policymaking processes.

The Sh36.6 billion will also be expected to facilitate engagement on financial matters between the national and county governments, improve management and efficiency of public institutions and sensitisation on the application of the Power of Mercy Act, and development of the annual presidential report on national values and principles of governance.

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