Counties as a symbol of devolution that has seen substantial resources channelled into development at the grassroots, have, ironically, also been characterised by wastage of public resources. And nothing exemplifies this more than the huge amounts of money sank into domestic and international travel. There is no tangible gain derived from these excursions by elected county leaders and officials, and yet they have used up funds that could have made a difference in the provision of basic services.
This damning evidence of profligacy is contained in a report by the Controller of Budget, which indicates that the counties splashed out Sh8.9 billion in the first nine months of the last financial year. It will be recalled there was a public outcry soon after the 2013 General Election over what were then referred to as bench-marking trips. Israel was a popular destination where Members of County Assembly purported to go and learn about agriculture. There is no evidence that farming was improved through these trips.
Had it not been for visa restrictions, these political tourists could have needlessly gobbled up more funds. It is disappointing to note that in that financial year alone, the spending on travel increased by Sh3.31 billion. This report has raised a red flag on a matter of national important that calls for a serious review after this year’s General Election.