The Government has put down measures that will hurt Kenyans’ pockets more deeply. This is largely due to the State’s own fi scal mistakes. And as it reintroduces taxes on some basic commodities, the State must answer these two questions. Is it really necessary? Who is to blame for the position we are in? Similar austerity measures pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on developing countries in the past have never been forgiven by those whose livelihoods were destroyed courtesy of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs).
In the 1980s and 90s, Kenya also yielded to a similar push by the IMF leading to repealing of interest rate caps, trimming down the civil service, removing price controls on fertiliser, opening the market for unfairly priced competing imports among other measures. Many observers blame the SAPS for destroying most African countries. However, for the IMF to intervene in the Kenyan situation it means we have mismanaged our economy.
As a matter of fact the IMF has warned Kenya about runaway borrowing but it has fallen on deaf ears. The worst part is not the borrowing itself but how most of the borrowed money gets lost through graft and pilferage. It is however encouraging that the Central Bank has said our economy is well protected against capital outflows and as such does not need IMF’s precautionary credit. If that is the case then the government has no reason to reintroduce taxes on fuel, sugar and confectionaries. The Treasury mandarins must correct their wrongs without punishing mwananchi.