Kenya embassies face cash crisis

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Kenya’s 52 missions abroad are facing a serious financial crisis after losing nearly Sh1.4 billion of their current budget due to the weakening shilling.

Acting Foreign Affairs minister George Saitoti said the embassies were losing close to a quarter of their annual budget because the government pegged the exchange rate at Sh74 per dollar, but the shilling had fallen to a low of Sh94 per dollar.

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This means that the missions are losing as much as Sh20 per dollar per transaction.

“Right Honourable Prime Minister, I want to bring to your attention the fact that the exchange rate fluctuations have seriously affected the budgets of our missions abroad. This is because the government continues to peg its budget for foreign missions at Sh74 per dollar but as you are aware, the dollar is today trading at Sh94. As we look into ways of addressing this, I ask for patience from all of you here tonight,” Prof Saitoti said at the 16th biennial conference for Kenyan envoys on Friday.

Similar concerns had been expressed by acting Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Patrick Wamoto, who asked the PM to raise the matter at the next Cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga assured the country’s ambassadors and high commissioners that the Cabinet will meet to find ways of ensuring that operations at Kenya’s missions abroad do not grind to a halt because of lack of funds, a situation caused by the depreciating value of the shilling against the US dollar.

“I have taken note of the effects of the exchange rate and I want to say here that this will be a substantive agenda when the Cabinet meets. It will not be an AoB as Mr Wamoto had suggested earlier,” Mr Odinga said.

The Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations asked the government to take urgent action to ensure that operations at the foreign missions are not hampered.

 

 

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