Kuria Kimani: We were a laughing stock of the international community because of debt

Finance Bill Committee chairperson Kimani Kuria during a panel discussion on KTN News on Monday, July 3. [The Standard]

The Finance Bill Committee chairperson Kimani Kuria says Kenya had become a laughing stock among the international community for its appetite of foreign loans.

Speaking during The Impact show on KTN News on Monday night, Kuria maintained that Kenya had borrowed so much that there was no more head room for debts.

Hence, he said, the Kenya Kwanza government had to come up with measures such as collecting more taxes and using national savings to pay for what the country needs.

“The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) wanted to run our economy. With the revenue raising measures in his bill (Finance Act 2023), we have the confidence [to reduce borrowing],” said Kuria.

John Kitui, the County Director of Oxfam, was in the same panel discussion as Kuria.

Kitui opined that many Kenyans had no problem tightening their belts to pay taxes. He, however, noted that Kenyans were dissatisfied with the manner in which the government was handling the taxes once it was collected.

He insisted that the government needed to come up with measures to ensure that the money is spent in the rightful manner.

“The unfairness is that the government is not even serious about fighting corruption, the leakages and the financial illicit flaws. Kenyans are okay paying taxes because they understand that paying higher taxes is necessary for the government to guarantee the primary goods,” Kitui said.

He added; “The critical issue that has not been addressed is the unfairness. The government expects the citizens to tighten their belts but at the same time it continues to spend in a wasteful way and fails to deal with corruption.”

On his part, Waithaka Gatumia, the CEO Centonomy, said Kenyans ought to equip themselves with personal finance skills to help them deal with the high cost of living.

Gatumia challenged Kenyans to have a budget for their expenditure and plan their income.

“If you have no clue where your money is going, it does not matter what policy is in place, people were struggling before this and people will continue to struggle until we take personal responsibility and act,” said Gatumia.

President William Ruto assented the Finance Bill 2023 on Monday, June 25 with an aim of raising more money to foot its budget.

Among the contentious issues in the Bill include the Housing levy which was amended to 1.5 per cent of gross pay from 3 per cent and the 16 per cent value-added tax on fuel that was increased from 8 per cent.