Kenya risks being blacklisted over unplanned foreign trips

Justin MuturiThe National Government and county officials have been asked to stop sending huge delegations abroad as it was giving Kenya a bad name internationally.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed warned on Friday that Kenya risked being ‘blacklisted’ due to the many unplanned foreign trips that were rubbing host countries the wrong way.

“The trend is receiving too much criticism due to lack of proper framework and policies,” they said.

The two were speaking to governors and other elected representatives on Friday during a two-day workshop on foreign travel and fiscal responsibility at Leisure Lodge in Kwale County.

HOST NATIONS COMPLAIN

The Speaker said Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) have been sending large numbers of delegates overseas, causing the host nations to complain.

“If this continues, we risk being blacklisted by the concerned nations because the delegation are overburdening,” he added.

He noted that matters of foreign travel have attracted a lot of attention from the society and the media because it involved spending of public funds.

However, he was quick to point out that it was important for Kenya to benchmark with countries affiliated to foreign bodies such as Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the East Africa Legislative Association.

“The benefit of these trips is not only for the Parliament but the entire country. As a country, we cannot work in isolation because this will enforce ties and make Kenya even play host,” he said.

SEVERAL COUNTRIES HAVE COMPLAINED

Ms Mohamed expressed concern that several countries have written to Kenya to complain of such visits, saying they were interfering with the host countries’ operations.

Citing Malaysia, Rwanda, Singapore and China, the CS said the countries have written to her ministry registering their displeasure over large and ill-timed delegations visiting them without proper organisation.

“Some of the countries are now reluctant to take us in. These countries have complained of receiving 10 representatives from counties and 12 from the National Assembly, who both need similar attention,” she said.

She added that the increase of uncoordinated travels has also raised issues of conduct on some of the delegations.

DEFENDED THE TRIPS

But county assemblies’ forum chairperson Dr Nur Nassir defended the trips, claiming counties could not learn from each other.

He said it was important for them to travel to get knowledge on how they can increase revenue allocation.

“There is need for us to have equal standards when it comes to the issue of foreign trips so that we can all be at par,” he said.

The vice-chair of the Council of Governors, Salim Mvurya, expressed optimism that the workshop would guide future engagements with foreign missions.

Some of the rules put by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on official trips include a clear purpose of travel, measurable outcome and a 90-day notification to be given to the host nation before travel.

The workshop was attended by governors, some members of the Senate, National Assembly, county assemblies’ forum and county executive members with an objective of formulating a coherent policy and guidelines on foreign relations.

-nation.co.ke

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