Since assuming office on a Kenya Kwanza electorate win in September 2022, President Ruto has spent 83 days out of the country visiting over 45 cities in 38 countries, as he seeks to champion Kenya’s interest on the global stage.
William Ruto’s inaugural trip out of the country came when he graced the State funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with fellow Heads of State the world over. He then made three trips each to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States, as well as two trips each to Burundi, France, and the United Kingdom.
His trips to America have been to attend the 77th and 78th sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in New York where he addressed the climate change crisis, mobilizing his fellow African Statesmen to raise their voices on the negative implications of climate change and not to be left behind when solutions are being made.
Just recently, Kenyans have expressed concern over the high number of foreign trips the Head of State has had to undertake.
These concerns come at a time when a large majority of the population is struggling with the high cost of living and increased taxation. They opine that Ruto’s love for foreign trips is a burden to the taxpayer and that these resources should be diverted to address the high cost of living the country is facing.
Almost as if the President sensed these sentiments from Kenyans, he promised to cut down his travel budget by Ksh 500 million to support learners with special needs. Ruto has pledged the money will be used to start a factory that will manufacture local devices that will assist learners who are abled differently. He also stopped non-essential foreign travel by government officials whilst reducing delegations about a month ago.
This is a strategic and timely response from the President who has exhausted his full-year budget in seven months. He has spent more than Ksh 56 million in the first half of the financial year ending June 2024. This is twice the same amount spent by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2021.
A Head of State’s foreign trip usually costs the taxpayers millions of shillings in accommodation, operations, and transport. The President is usually accompanied by large delegations, including his security detail and senior government officials who draw huge amounts in travel allowances.
Some believe the trips are justifiable as he is doing it on behalf of Kenya but some see it as a waste of public resources.
Speaking on Thursday’s Daybreak programme on Citizen TV, lawmaker Adan Keynan said “The President is the chief diplomat of Kenya and whatever he does is done for the best interest of the people of Kenya.”
Vihiga Governor Godfrey Osotsi, who was also on the same interview asserted that “The President doesn’t have to travel. He has a foreign minister who can attend these functions, and the trade minister can also handle some of these trips. He doesn’t need to travel all the time.”
The Governor persuaded President Ruto to emulate countries such as Nigeria, where all travel was suspended, resulting in economic stability approximately within a year and a reduction in unessential travel.
“We want to see tangible results, and these results should not be just words. We want to witness their impact on the cost of living, the exchange rate, inflation; they must be tangible,” stressed Osotsi.
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Kenyans will be waiting to see if the measures taken by the President will be implemented and be successful or if they will be empty promises and campaign talk that yield nothing.