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Implement state programmes without hurting public further

By The Standard | Published Sat, August 25th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 24th 2018 at 23:37 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta left the country yesterday.

Set to spend weeks away from the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta who left yesterday night will come back to a different country than the one he left behind.

He will find Kenyans facing lean times unless he wields his power, which the public really needs, and orders The Treasury not to reintroduce taxes on fuel.

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Kenyans are already paying through their noses in order to survive after inflation hit a four-month high of 4.35 per cent in July as the prices of sugar, petrol, electricity and medication went up. A spike of 16 per cent on petrol is the last thing Kenyans need but indications are, if all factors are unchanged, petrol would be retailing at Sh130 starting next Sunday.

Fuel is a major determinant of inflation, as it is the source of energy in a number of sectors, including manufacturing, transport and agriculture. And as an import-based economy, any surge in  fuel prices will trigger a ripple effect that will increase the cost of almost all goods that need to be manufactured or transported.

Intend to turn back

The saddening part about the impending rise in cost of living is that Kenyans are to be punished financially so that the government can appease the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for mistakes committed by mandarins at The Treasury.

The Central Bank of Kenya has already said the economy is well-protected and does not need to kow-tow to IMF’s conditionalities.

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At the end of yesterday, Kenya had comfortable level of foreign reserves standing at Sh895 billion or 5.99 months of import cover, according to data from CBK. However, sources reveal that The Treasury does not intend to turn back on the expected surge in the prices of basic commodities, and this calls for Solomonic move by the president.

Repayments of debts

If the concerns of economists are considered, this hard line stance by The Treasury on the impending reintroduction of taxes on fuel and subsequently complementary goods, is because the government has not satisfied its foreign debt appetite. After all, when Uhuru goes to China, he will sign a Sh380 billion deal for the construction of Phase 2 of Standard Gauge Railway.

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Infrastructure development is a good thing and the country needs good infrastructure in order to kick start the economy towards the middle income status as per Vision 2030.

Even then, there should be a balance between the amount we are borrowing and the immediate needs of Kenyans.

It would beat logic to borrow so much that most of our taxes are used on repayments of debts leaving so little to development. That is exactly what the government is doing and punishing Kenyans for its infractions. Thus, what should be on Uhuru’s mind as he travels is how to carry out government programmes without hurtingKenyans. The country will thank him for it.

As demonstrated by his zeal to push through his Big Four agenda, we have no doubts that the President means well for the country. We call on him to ensure an aggressive war on corruption is sustained and the publicgiven value for money in every undertaking. It can never be too late to get it right.


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