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State House ‘asking for a bigger budget than all of Kenya’s 47 counties’? Veteran politician Martha Karua’s numbers fall short

With increased taxation a hot topic in Kenya, government spending is under the spotlight. But is the president’s official residence demanding more than the country’s devolved units of government?

  • Karua said that State House had requested KSh351 billion (US$2.6 billion) for the 2024/25 financial year. But this figure is the approved budget for the entire public administration and international relations sector. 

  • Of this, KSh9.23 billion has been allocated to State House. The budget for the presidency and cabinet, including the prime cabinet secretary, is  KSh21.5 billion.

  • Karua was also incorrect about the budget allocated to Kenya’s 47 counties, underestimating by KSh50 billion, although the published figures could still be amended.

Experienced Kenyan lawmaker Martha Karua was recently the first guest on a video podcast hosted by another veteran politician, former minister Cyrus Jirongo

Both politicians have sought the presidency before. Jirongo ran in 2017. Karua ran in 2013 and for vice president in 2022. Both have been on Kenya’s political scene for more than three decades, serving as cabinet ministers, legislators and opposition politicians.

They revisited their political history and discussed the state of the country in the March 2024 podcast.

One point of discussion for Karua was the money sought by the country’s official presidential residence, known as State House, as proposed in the new budget statement being considered by the national assembly. The budget statement is the basis on which the assembly will set the spending plan for the next financial year, which runs from 1 July to 30 June. 

“State House is asking for a bigger budget than the whole country – KSh351 billion versus KSh341 billion for the counties,” Karua said. “Forty-seven counties is the whole of Kenya and the KSh341 billion is for everything. KSh351 billion for State House is just for splashing”. 

Kenya has 47 devolved units referred to as counties.

But do both those numbers check out?

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“State House is asking for KSh351 billion.”



We asked Karua for her source of data and we will update this report with her response. We went in search of the facts and figures in the meantime.

On the day she made the claim, the figure she quoted was equivalent to US$2.6 billion.  

Each financial year, government spending units submit their budget proposals for the following fiscal year to the national treasury. These budgets are grouped by pre-defined categories or sectors. 

The State House budget is part of the public administration and international relations sector, which includes:

  • the offices of the president, deputy president and the prime cabinet secretary 
  • the national treasury and parliament 
  • eight state departments and five constitutional commissions 
  • the auditor general and the office of the controller of budget 

According to the controller of budget, the public administration and international relations sector comprises 23 spending units, each with its own budget. 

The State House budget supports the work of the president, funds the first lady's projects, pays for policy advice, covers media expenses, and ensures the upkeep of state houses and lodges around the country.

The most recent sector report, published in November 2023, showed that the sector asked for a budget of KSh529 billion, of which the treasury allocated a ceiling of KSh304.7 billion. State House affairs requested KSh16.2 billion and got a ceiling of KSh8.23 billion. 

In February 2024, the treasury published the budget policy statement which showed that it had approved KSh351 billion for the entire public administration and international relations sector. 

In the 2023/24 fiscal year, State House received KSh9.84 billion. It will get KSh9.23 billion in 2024/25 if the national assembly upholds the treasury’s allocations.

Even if we add up the budgets for the president, his deputy, the prime cabinet secretary, the cabinet and the state house, the total is KSh21.5 billion.

Karua’s figure of KSh351 billion refers to 23 spending units, including entire ministries, state departments, constitutional commissions, parliament and state house. It's not just State House. Therefore, the claim is inaccurate.


“Counties have a total budget of KSh341 billion.”



Each of the 47 counties has its own treasury which manages its budgeting process. Put another way, each county prepares its own budget. 

County revenues are made up of money paid out from the national treasury and what counties collect locally, known as own-source revenues. This includes levies, fees and licences. 

How much money have the counties requested for the next financial year?

The commission on revenue allocation determines the equitable sharing of revenue between counties and the national government. It then recommends the allocations to parliament, the national treasury, county assemblies and the county executives.

In a December 2023 report, the commission recommended a total allocation of KSh398 billion to the counties for the 2024/25 financial year, which begins on 1 July 2024. 

The national treasury publishes the division of revenue bill, which shows the money due to the counties. The most recent bill, published on 20 March, shows counties will receive KSh391.1 billion if parliament does not amend it. This is also the same figure presented to the national assembly in the budget policy statement of February 2024.

It is KSh50 billion more than the KSh 341 billion in Karua’s claim.

But that’s not the only money in the county budgets. The counties raise their own revenue. Details of county budgets can be found in the quarterly reports of the controller of budget. There is currently no central database for county budgets for the 2024/25 financial year. 

However, over the past five financial years, reports from the budget controller show that counties spent more than the KSh341 billion mentioned by Karua.

The amount increased from KSh483.5 billion in 2018/19 to KSh499.6 billion in 2019/20 and KSh501.7 billion in 2020/21. It further rose to KSh535.7 billion in 2021/22 and KSh515.18 billion in 2022/23. In the 2023/24 financial year, the county budgets totalled KSh557.44 billion.

Karua’s claim that the total county budget is KSh341 billion falls flat.

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