How former finance minister lost budget briefcase after drinking spree

The Kenyan budget briefcase is a meticulously crafted leather case, embossed with the Kenyan coat of arms and the words 'Republic of Kenya.'

Budget briefcase
  • Several finance ministers have had the honour of carrying the iconic Kenyan budget briefcase
  • A memorable and humorous episode involves Finance Minister James Gichuru leaving the briefcase in a bar after a night of heavy drinking
  • It is a tradition inherited from the British, with a unique Kenyan touch

The annual budget presentation is a highly anticipated event, marked by the grand reveal of the famous Kenyan budget briefcase.

This iconic briefcase has become a symbol of fiscal responsibility, transparency, and the economic direction of the country.

The tradition of using a budget briefcase is believed to have been inherited from the British, a remnant of Kenya’s colonial past.

In the United Kingdom, the Chancellor of the Exchequer traditionally carries the budget speech in a red leather briefcase, known as the 'Gladstone box,' named after former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.

Similarly, Kenya adopted this tradition, adding its unique touch to the ceremonial presentation.

The Kenyan budget briefcase is a meticulously crafted leather case, embossed with the Kenyan coat of arms and the words 'Republic of Kenya.'

The design of the briefcase reflects both its functional purpose and its ceremonial importance, serving as a secure carrier for crucial budget documents and a visual representation of the government's financial plans.

Over the years, several finance ministers have had the honour of carrying the Kenyan budget briefcase.

Each minister brings their personal style and approach to the budget presentation, but the briefcase remains a constant, unchanging symbol.

Some of the notable finance ministers who have held the briefcase include James Gichuru Mwai Kibaki, Arthur Magugu, George Saitoti, Musalia Mudavadi, Simeon Nyachae, Francis Masakhalia, Chris Okemo, Chris Obure, David Mwiraria, Amos Kimunya, John Michuki, Uhuru Kenyatta, Njeru Githae, Henry Rotich, Ukur Yattani and currently Njuguna Ndung'u.

One of the most memorable and humorous episodes in the history of the Kenyan budget briefcase involves former Finance Minister James Gichuru,(1963-1969) the very first to carry the briefcase.

A few years after his initial budget presentation, Gichuru left the briefcase in a bar after engaging in a drinking spree.

This incident occurred during a period when the importance and security of the budget documents were paramount.

According to the tale, Gichuru inadvertently left the briefcase behind after a night of heavy drinking.

This caused a minor national panic, given the significance of the documents it contained. The Ministry of Finance had to send a team to retrieve the case from the bar

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