Azimio to Kenya Kwanza: Deal with the financial crisis or face the consequences

Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Azimio Coalition has come out guns blazing in regard to the current status of the country’s economy and government’s spending.

In a statement on Tuesday, April 11, Leader of Minority in the National Assembly Opiyo Wandayi raised more concerns about the skyrocketing prices of food and fuel, a weakening shilling, several loan obligations, and declining forex reserves, among other worries.

“We have established that the state of our national revenue collection by the Kenya Revenue Authority is worse than we thought. The country targets to collect a total of Sh2.1 trillion as tax revenues by the end of the Financial Year which ends in two months. However, KRA has managed to collect only Sh1.2 trillion as at end of February 2023, leading to a shortfall of Sh900b…that is not realistically achievable within the remaining two months,” Wandayi said.

The team lamented that the current administration is on a spending spree despite constantly saying it inherited “empty coffers.”

The lawmaker claimed that the Office of the President has received Sh1 billion for luxuries such as cars and furniture, whereas counties are yet to receive their funds from the National Government.

 “Treasury CS Dr. Njuguna Ndungu and PS Dr. Chris Kiptoo have merely confirmed what we already know; that the situation is bad and Kenyans should tighten their belts. KRA, on the other hand, maintains it has done its bit. Yesterday, they claimed that it had met over 95 percent of its original target and is looking forward to recording a surplus by June. This sounds like a fairy tale.”

“We maintain that KRA and the National Treasury owe Kenyans an explanation on the whereabouts of their money,” the MP said.

Some of the demands Azimio is now making include an immediate end to non-essential government expenditures, international travel, and political operations by the Kenya Kwanza administration.

“The appointments of Chief Administrative Secretaries must be cut. It is now clear that we have a bloated government. Huge number of cabinet secretaries, multiple principal secretaries, directorates, advisors, aides, departments, and CASs are all gobbling up finances for no demonstrable good value for money. This mess is killing the counties. It is killing our people who are being asked to tighten their belts,” the Raila Odinga-led coalition stated.

Azimio also wants a committee of legislators and finance experts formed to probe the government’s expenditure, administration, and policies.

“That committee should also examine and come up with a coherent explanation of where we are, how we got here, and the government's response which, so far, borders on gross neglect and dereliction of duty,” said Wandayi.

Earlier on Tuesday, President William Ruto acknowledged factors pointing to a looming financial crisis, noting a delay in salaries for civil servants for the first time in the country’s history.