Separating truth from lies: 'Uncaring state, failed taxman and more opposition lies'

The arrival of 48,000 tonnes of white maize at the Port of Mombasa has heralded the prospect of cheap flour on Kenyan shelves. It has repudiated the ridiculous notion of a government unconcerned about the plight of its citizens. It also takes the wind out of the sails of the country’s political opposition which has capitalised on shortages of the national staple to make “unga” the rallying cry of a disruptive mass action movement.

There are other narratives along the same vein that this column seeks to debunk. First is the spurious allegation to the effect that the Kenya Kwanza government is unable to pay civil servants’ emoluments because of administrative incompetence. Nothing could be further from the truth. As has been explained by leading economists, the country now faces an external debt burden resulting from profligate borrowing during the Uhuru Kenyatta administration.

Numerous times, this and other columns warned of the fact that the country was hurtling towards debt-distress. Currently, more than 60 per cent of the country’s revenues are going to debt service, leaving very little for recurrent expenditure and development. It must be understood that governments exist in perpetuity meaning that the Kenyatta administration debts cannot be ignored but must be serviced by the Ruto government. That the president is figuring out a way out of a financial hole that was not of his making must be commended rather than censured by those trying to capitalise politically on an existential crisis.

The second narrative to be debunked is the sophistry of some opposition figures who claim the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is failing in its revenue collection mandate. These sophists claim that KRA is hamstrung by changes in administration. They further state, without any proof, that funds from the authority have been diverted to illegal purposes.

KRA has surveillance mechanisms that plug loopholes and thus deter the diversion of revenues to pursuits that are unsanctioned by law. Further, numbers from the authority’s website tell a different story. They reveal that KRA has actually kept pace with revenue collections compared to prior year collections. A statement from the website gives irrefutable proof saying, “as at the close of March 2023, revenue collection averaged 95.1 per cent and 93.4 per cent on supplementary targets representing a collection of Ksh1.554 billion and a year-on-year growth of 8 per cent.”

Perhaps what these sophists intend is to hoodwink the public with tales of KRA targets not met. However, according to The East African, a weekly publication, “some policymakers have termed the government’s revenue targets overly ambitious.” This should not therefore give the opposition the carte blanche to make reckless and irresponsible statements casting aspersions on the integrity of hardworking civil servants.

Which is the tragedy of current opposition politics. That rather than provide oversight of the government through checks and balances based on cogent facts, they would much rather play to the gallery. Hitherto, they have not provided any proof of electoral malfeasance to back their claims of a “stolen” presidential election. They push for the reinstatement of food and petroleum products subsidies even in the face of evidence of past egregious abuses of the same. Yet they make these issues key planks in their engagement with the government threatening to resume mass action when it is abundantly clear that such action is inimical to the country’s economic well-being.

It is said that Rome’s infamous emperor, Nero, fiddled while the city burned.  Some historians claim Nero wanted to build a brand new city in the place of the one he set ablaze. Calling for mass action when one knows that it will lead to the destruction of small business in the nation’s city is akin to Nero’s actions. The truth is a conflagration of the city will not see a new one rebuilt from the ashes. That is a lie. Let posturing, brinkmanship and political grandstanding be put aside. We have a country to rebuild! Let reason prevail!

Mr Khafafa public policy analyst