Kenyan president Ruto defends cost of private jet for US trip while calling for prudent spending

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan President William Ruto said Thursday the cost of hiring a private jet for his state visit to the U.S. last week was $76,000 as opposed to the $1.2 million reported by Kenyan media outlets.

Ruto said some friends offered him a cheaper jet after he made inquiries and offered to travel using the state carrier Kenya Airways.

The president undertook a four-day trip to the U.S. last week, where his host President Joe Biden praised him for “bold leadership.”

Ruto’s delegation of about 30 people including musicians, actors and a comedian provoked an uproar back home over the cost even as he called for prudent spending. The president on Thursday said he was a very “responsible steward.”

Ruto had earlier said the cost of using the private jet was lower than flying on Kenya Airways, without providing evidence.

Ruto has been calling for reduced spending in government since the public called out his administration for increasing taxes without reducing expenditures.

The government is increasing taxes on basic goods in the next financial year while seeking to raise an additional $2.3 billion to finance the budget.

Earlier in May, Ruto defended the new taxes saying: “I’m not going to preside over a country in debt distress. We have to cut our spending.”

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