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The bottoms-up economic model is anti-hustlers and demands a rethink

Opinion
 A trader was hawking his goods at Kakamega town on Christmas day. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Complete impoverishment of Africans and other underdeveloped nations comes in two levels: Tacit behind-the-scene moves by the West fronted by the Bretton Woods institutions and conceited and corrupt leaders who are happy to see the oppression of their citizens. Leaders immunised against penury through corrupt deals conceived as international lending or national projects and investments can access and hold on to power for as long as the unholy alliances remain favourable to both axes.

Tokenism is perfected in luring chicken for slaughter. If chickens can be attracted by dropping bits of seeds on their path, they will continue to follow their butcher.

In Kenya, the economic model remains experimental to the chagrin of the masses and benefit of a few. The motif of 10 millionaires versus 10 million paupers remains deeply entrenched.

The political class continues to enrich itself while Kenyans get deeper into poverty. Four Kenyans are said to own more wealth than 20 million low-cadre Kenyans combined.

During the 2022 election campaigns, the narrative of wealthy dynasties versus poor hustlers was proclaimed and seemed to have carried the day. Only during the vetting of Cabinet appointees did Kenyans notice there was no difference between the loathed dynasties and hustler movement leaders.

Inequality is now being propagated subtly through various taxation regimes. The creation of the Salary and Remuneration Commission (SRC) in the 2010 was supposed to ensure politicians do not dictate their pay and other terms of employment once they get to Parliament but should be treated as all other State officers. But upon enactment of the Constitution, they sought amendments that exempted them from State control and can now dictate their pay and emoluments, many of which they do not pay taxes on.

However, they audaciously enact laws that seek to tax other Kenyans more. It is like a race to ensure the hoi polloi never rises to catch up with the political aristocracy.

During the Kibaki economic revival era, besides reducing public debt, his regime sought to ensure Kenyans had increased access to finances. Citizens' ability to spend was increased and, as a result, government revenue also increased.

During the Uhuru-era and seemingly in Ruto's dispensation, the trend is an increased public debt, government spending, corruption, and public taxation to seal the gaps! The proclaimed bottoms-up economic model appears to have been hijacked by foreign powers to imply every revenue stream available to the lower citizen cadres is taxed maximally while the upper classes get away with billions in tax evasion schemes

Kenyans pay taxes on their salaries, and on the savings they sequester in various financial facilities like saccos. Loans taken on these savings are taxed, making a double tax, as the income repaying the loan, with interest, is also taxed.

The investments they seek to establish, however small, most of which the government gives no incentives for, are being placed in high tax brackets. Government even requires various fees and taxes on intended investments long before they earn any income. Many ventures have failed to break even as the financial demands placed on them are steeper than the income they generate

Every item citizens buy attracts an 18 per cent VAT, while the various bills on basic consumables like fuel, water and energy have fluctuating inconsistent taxation.

Meanwhile, those who make the laws also create income avenues that are devoid of taxes and create opportunities for wealth. Parliamentarians have mortgages and car loans that allow them to import various vehicles duty-free.

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