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William Ruto: My plan for Kenya's Sh8 trillion debt

UDA's Presidential candidate William Ruto during the Presidential candidate's debate. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has said that if elected president in the upcoming General Elections, his first assignment will be to deal with Kenya’s national debt.

Speaking during the presidential debate, Ruto said that should the Kenya Kwanza Alliance make the next government, they would go slow on borrowing, put brakes on unbudgeted projects and raise revenues to address the national debt that currently stands at Sh8.4 trillion.

“We should stop this borrowing spree.”

He said that the Jubilee government borrowed Sh2.2 trillion during its first term, compared to the second term where they borrowed Sh4.2 trillion.

The UDA presidential candidate said that he was not involved in running the government during the second term, claiming that he was sidelined following the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio la Umoja’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

 “Our debt today is a challenge; we need to deal with it. We are not sitting pretty we are living beyond our means,” Ruto said.

The national debt is a concern not just to Kenyans but to development partners, with who he said have raised an issue citing the continued borrowing by the National government.

According to Ruto, majority of funds had been redirected to projects that he said had been unbudgeted for. “Unbudgeted projects are in the region of Sh100 billion and that is what is spiraling our budget,” he said.

Ruto said that most of the projects do not have paperwork and hence makes it harder to track the spending. He added that after his government has stopped borrowing, they will then embark on raising revenue on targeted areas, which would give resources to run the government and help repay some of the loans.

“There is room to raise additional funding and revenue for us to manage our debt without necessarily going to say we are going to negotiate our debt,” he said.

The DP said that 80 per cent of Kenya’s debt is owed to local banks which affected their ability to give credit to Kenyans. He added that his government would slow down on borrowing locally and instead externalize government borrowing.

Asked why he has never protested or spoken about government loan contracts despite being Kenya’s deputy president for the last ten years, Ruto held that he was yet to become Kenya’s president and the buck will stop with him.

He said he had on several occasions advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to make the contracts public.