Reduce heavy borrowing, Raila urges Uhuru

By Isaiah Gwengi | Sunday, Sep 9th 2018 at 00:00
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NASA leader Raila Odinga with his brother and East African Legislative MP Oburu Oginga during the house-warming ceremony of the MP’s son in Bondo, Siaya County, yesterday. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga wants government to cease heavy borrowing in order to reduce the country’s debt burden

He said the conversation must be created and concluded as fast as possible for Kenya to move on.

Speaking in Bondo yesterday where he attended a function at the home of his nephew, Jaoko Oburu, Raila said this can be achieved without subjecting already burdened Kenyans to more taxation.

“The debt is already too heavy for Kenyans to carry and we are calling on the government to find ways of raising funds without raising taxes,” Raila said.

He was accompanied by Siaya County Deputy Governor James Okumbe, East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) member Oburu Oginga and Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo.

Raila also advised the government to go slow on borrowing, saying that is the long-term solution to avoid overtaxing Kenyans.

“I can advise Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich on how they can deal with the debt burden. It can be done because we did it during the Grand Coalition Government,” he said.

The ODM leader blamed the huge debts on corruption, saying the country has lost almost Sh700 billion to corrupt individuals. “In order to achieve this, we need to slay this animal called corruption. If corruption can be controlled, the government can raise additional funds for development needs without increasing taxes,” he said.

The government’s debt currently stands at Sh5.1 trillion, with China and the World Bank among the biggest external creditors owed more than a trillion shillings combined — Sh534 billion and Sh587 billion, respectively.

“It is these debts that are now pushing the government into a tight spot to impose such taxes on innocent Kenyans to repay them,” he said.

Raila, who had earlier condemned CS Rotich for going against the MPs’ decision to defer the implementation of the tax law, said that amendments to the Finance Bill 2018, which seeks to defer implementation of the Bill until 2020 to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of living had been passed.

On Monday, Raila said President Uhuru Kenyatta will sign into law the amendments to the 16 per cent VAT bill on petroleum passed by Parliament last week.

Raila also commended the government’s crackdown on corruption and the culture of impunity, saying it was unthinkable at the beginning of the year, until the Building Bridges Initiative was born.

“The March 9 handshake gave birth to a new Kenya with a very clear agenda on how to address our problems,” said Raila.

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