The budget hike was revealed by national Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o when she appeared before the National Dialogue Committee last week to provide insight into why Kenya continues to face a high cost of living.

Explaining how her salary was inflated, Nyakang’o said in the 2022/2023 financial year, her annual salary was budgeted at KSh17.82m ($117,701.45), instead of KSh9.18m that she should be paid.

“My salary was budgeted at three times what I’m paid. When I asked about that, no response was provided,” she said, adding that a similar trend had been observed in the 2023/2024 budget where officials from the Treasury budgeted her salary at KSh18.3m which is 93% more than her actual annual pay.

Furthermore, Nyakang’o said salaries and allowances for President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua have also been budgeted at KSh42.4m, instead of the KSh32.05m that is the official gazetted pay for the two top leaders in financial year 2023/2024.

‘Budgeted corruption’

In the past, Nyakang’o called out the theft of public funds both in the county and national government and is now calling for an immediate audit to seal what she terms “budgeted corruption” within the Kenyan government.

However, appearing before the same dialogue committee on 6 November, finance minister Njuguna Ndung’u dismissed the revelations made by Nyakang’o, saying he had forwarded the matter to the Auditor General.

“You cannot make a statement unless you have provided the facts. We disburse money based on budget,” he said, adding that if the allegations are found to be true, then theft of public funds has been taking place.

Lawmakers split

Lawmakers from the ruling party are raising concerns about the intentions and timing of the discovery made by the Controller of Budget, accusing her of painting the government in bad light regarding the fight against corruption.

Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, a member of the Dialogue Committee, questioned why Nyakang’o, who authorised the withdrawal of public funds, did so if she knew the budget had been excessively inflated.

“We should ask her to resign. That is incompetence or she is part of those stealing from Kenyans,” he said.

However, Robert Mbui, an opposition lawmaker, commended Nyakang’o, describing her as courageous. He wants her safety guaranteed by the state.

“We have always heard of budgeted corruption, but this time, it has been explained to us clearly,” he said, calling on the Parliamentary Budget and Appropriation Committee to further interrogate the claims.

Political activist Miguna Miguna is accusing the country’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission of not doing enough to curb the theft of public funds.

“This is a scandal of such huge magnitude that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet,” he reacted on his X account.

Kenyans are losing hope in Ruto’s promises to effectively fight graft, political analyst Wyclife Odera tells The Africa Report. The revelation put Parliament’s responsibility of overseeing the budget approval process on the spot, he adds.

“Kenyans don’t expect anything new, even after this acknowledgement. Don’t expect any arrests or even investigations,” he says.

President Ruto has reiterated to Kenyans that his resolve to fight corruption in the country is unstoppable, warning that senior government officials who steal public funds will not go unpunished.

“Corrupt individuals must leave Kenya, go to jail, or they have the option of going to heaven,” Ruto has said previously when talking about fighting corruption.

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