By Judith Gicobi
The Government is now preparing to acquire guest residences and luxury vehicles for visiting heads of state and dignitaries, ostensibly to reduce the dependency on ritzy hotels.
The acquisition of the residences, according to the Foreign Affairs ministry, will ensure ready accommodation, safety, and privacy for the ‘VIP State guests.’
“The ministry seeks to acquire suitable guesthouses for high-level dignitaries visiting the country. This will cut costs of hotel accommodation and ensure there is always availability of accommodation and reduce dependency on hotels,” In a report to Parliament, Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo adds.
“This will also ensure security and confidentiality”.
Omamo explains that her ministry also requires ceremonial or protocol vehicles on readiness at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for diplomats’ mobility during visits, replete with provisions for flag pendants.
The ministry claims that its existing fleet of vehicles consists of obsolete cars that are expensive to run.
“The ministry has a large fleet of old vehicles hence increased maintenance costs. In addition, unlike in other international airports, JKIA does not have protocol cars stationed within the tarmac area/airside to facilitate VVIPs and VIPs on arrival and departure (boarding and disembarking),” adds the CS.
“There is also inadequate dedicated transport for senior staff, local errands and to ferry staff and goods which hampers service delivery of the ministry.”
This follows the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s latest statement that it would stop leasing assets and instead purchase it in order to reduce its exorbitant rent prices, which are estimated to be around Ksh.3 billion annually.
“Most missions do not own properties hence end up leasing. Rents and leases account for approximately 20 percent (Sh3.4 billion) out of the total budget (Sh17 billion) in Kenyan Missions abroad,” the report notes.
According to a local daily, the Treasury apportioned Ksh.17.33 billion to the Foreign Affairs ministry in the financial year ending June 2021, out of which Ksh.16.2 billion went to recurrent expenditure, having left only Ksh.1.13 billion for development.