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‘Handshake’ to blame for painful country’s debt burden, leaders say

Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders Musalia Mudavadi, Rigathi Gachagua, Susan Kihika, William Ruto and Moses Wetangula at Kabarnet, Baringo County. February 13, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance made up of Deputy President William Ruto, Amani National Congress’ Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula has blamed the ‘handshake’ for the accumulation of debt in the country.

The alliance, which is spearheading Dr Ruto’s State House bid, blamed the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga for burdening Kenyans, economically.

The three principals, who were in the company of political leaders from various counties in the Mount Kenya region, said the country should not take any more debts during the transition period, as President Uhuru exits State House. In a press statement read by Mudavadi at a Meru hotel, the leaders, said the debt had grown after the handshake.

They noted that public debt stood at Sh4.5 trillion at the end of June 2013 when President Mwai Kibaki retired and currently, it stands at Sh11.7 trillion.

“It may be of interest to note that debt commitment pre-handshake was Sh4.5 trillion and the post-handshake figure has ballooned to Sh11.7 trillion. Was the handshake a license to burdening Kenyans with punitive public debt, punitive taxation, punitive food prices and a high cost of living?” the leaders posed.

In stating their case against taking more loans, they cited the National Treasury for exceeding the public debt ceiling of Sh9 trillion as approved by Parliament in 2019, saying it was in breach of Article 211 of the Constitution read Section 50 (2) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

“The CS for the National Treasury should not sign any new loans including floating sovereign bonds during this transition. The National Assembly and the Senate should reduce the budget ceiling to ensure a fiscal deficit that does not exceed Sh400 billion and check on the growing public debt,” they added.

They implored the two houses not to approve any requests for a new debt ceiling from the Treasury.

“The National Assembly and Senate must avoid any further strangulation of Kenyans with additional debt by refusing any request for approval of a new debt ceiling. We are aware the CS for the National Treasury has prepared for submission to Parliament, a new debt ceiling of approximately Sh12 trillion,” they added.

The MPs allied to the outfit proposed a provision of Sh50b for the establishment of an affordable credit scheme to support small businesses.

Mudavadi said if their opponents in the elections were serious about devolution they should ensure proposals sail through in parliament.

“If these guys are serious, they should not oppose our proposals,” he stated.