Kenyans were recently confronted by the numbing reality of an economy not just on the ropes but one that had overheated under the pressures of huge debts, graft, over-borrowing and a shackling public wage bill incongruent with a receding revenue base.
But even as it became clear something would have to give way, consumption and spending patters continued to reinforce the negative trend.
With Kenya moored to debt of Sh5 trillion, a more prudent fiscal management sense should have dictated that we resort to more disciplined and frugal spending. The recent controversy over Finance Bill with its tempestuous political drama finally unmasked all past pretences and forced the government to own up to the truth that the Treasury was indeed in the red.
Subsequently, belt tightening and scaled back spending became inescapable. Starting with public expenditure, the government released a public investment management framework to help rationalise expenditure with the President announcing curtailed spending, mainly on new projects.
However, Kenyans are not convinced that wastage is being checked for as such as Wanjiku has had to tighten her belt, not enough appears to have changed for State officials and elected leaders in terms of lifestyle.
The extravagant habits and a predisposition to luxury at the expense of the tax payer continue largely unchecked. For Kenyan leaders, foreign trips appear like light to moths. And while at it, nothing less than business class tickets would do!
The case of scores of MPs travelling to Moscow to watch the World Cup three months ago at taxpayers expense served to underscore this monstrosity and notoriety. And barely two weeks ago, a group of MPs were at it again plotting to travel to Japan ostensibly to watch our Women’s Volleyball team.
With the economy in limbo, no extra to requirement expenditures should be allowed. This week, Devolution PS Charles Sunkuli had to issue guidelines on trips,workshops and trainings with the inevitable allowances participants draw. Leaders must re-purpose such raw acquisitive instincts and align them with dictates of the time.
The virtual fiscal carnage and misuse we see in Cabinet ministers, governors and other tops leaders as they cruise around in fuel guzzling limousines replete with chase cars make a sad statement about their insensitivity to Wanjiku. And while at it, what became of a one time order by Uhuru Kenyatta, while he was Finance minister, capping engine capacity cars for top government officials?