New diplomats ordered to cut extravagance in embassies
Newly appointed diplomats have been ordered to change the “bad habits” of extravagant expenditure by foreign missions.
Foreign Affairs PS Karanja Kibicho on Wednesday told the 25 new ambassadors in Nairobi that embassies have been taking advantage of the distance from check systems to dodge filing returns of their expenditure.
“Ninety per cent of the audit queries we have faced before the PAC (Parliamentary Accounts Committee) relate to our missions abroad…and I will tell you for a fact that some missions have not submitted receipts and invoices from as far back as 2010,” Dr Kibicho told them.
“These are habits that I honestly request that you go and kill. I will call upon you not to pick the bad habits that we have had for a long time because it doesn’t matter how well you have carried out your expenditures as long as we are not able to bring documentation, those expenditures will always be suspicious.”
Dr Kibicho was speaking at the opening session of an induction course for the new diplomats appointed last week by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He also protested the tendency by some missions to hire staff based on the tribe of the head of the mission.
Ambassadors have traditionally enjoyed the discretion to hire home staff, something the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conceded had given missions a lot of leeway to flout the law.
To counter the practise, the government says it will require the new envoys to sign performance contracts before they report to their stations next month.
The new envoys will undergo orientation for three weeks after which they will report to their new stations. They will be taught on basic regulations, the diplomatic code of conduct and other legal issues by career diplomats, legal scholars as well as senior staff at the Foreign Service Institute.
Dr Kibicho told reporters the induction session is part of his ministry’s policy to make missions effective.
“There is a deliberate policy to change Kenya’s diplomacy from being passive to being innovative, which will make Kenya more positively visible on the world stage…and bring tangible economic benefits to this country and its people,” he said after the session.
“This programme is a desire by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to be effective in the execution of its functions. It is about making our missions more proactive.”
The first part of the induction involved a session with their predecessors in what the government argues will be the best way of having the new envoys get briefs.
Next year in February, all the envoys will be invited for a conference back in Kenya to be further educated on Kenya’s foreign policy.