The Public Service ministry should be commended for revealing that government officials are abusing taxpayer funds. Assistant minister Adan Sugow told Parliament that exemptions granted to senior government officials were hampering the austerity measures and failure to cut down on spending was hurting government plans to save.
What is worrying is that while the government has announced plans to tighten spending some senior officials who are meant to effect the same are not affected, but are instead exempted. For example, some of the officers exempted from flying economy class are Cabinet ministers, assistant ministers, permanent secretaries and parliamentary committee chairmen. Public officials are required to fly economy on flights lasting less than two hours, but can upgrade to business class using their own funds. A public official flying business class from Nairobi to Mombasa pays Sh35,000 compared to Sh12,000 on economy.
Based on Mr Sugow’s remarks in Parliament, it appears that many public officials have also been abusing the taxpayers’ funds by failing to reduce the sizes of their delegations while on foreign assignments.
It is a now a well- known fact that many senior government officials have turned such foreign trips into avenues for misusing public funds by taking their cronies on the expensive journeys.
We believe that this is the time to take action and curb reckless spending. The government should walk the talk by ensuring that any official who misuses public funds is punished and ordered to refund the money.
Even after the government banned the use of fuel-guzzlers, some officials still travel across the country in the same vehicles. It is only by plugging the loopholes being exploited by the officials that the government can succeed in taming the misuse of taxpayers’ money.