Support Finance Bill to raise revenue to fund our national budget

Budget briefcase, June 15, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

President William Ruto must not get distracted from implementing the BETA plan.

The ongoing anti-government demos should not make him veer from acting the beautiful script he sold to Kenyans. The responsibility to defend the republic solely rests with him. The first instance of defending our beloved Kenya is through self-reliance and sustenance to guard our sovereignty in the comity of nations. This can only be achieved through a sound tax system and an accountable government.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta left the country Sh10 trillion debt in loans and pending bills of about Sh1 trillion. Our borrowing under his watch was 70 per cent of our GDP. Ahead of the 2022 elections, he bulldozed Jubilee and ODM MPs to increase our debt ceiling. Ironically, some of these MPs are today the ring leaders voting no to the finance bill 2024. 

Dr Ruto got the country in financial abyss, and he bears the responsibility to rescue Kenyans from it. The government must commit to them that their taxes will not be plundered. Cognisant of these facts, Ruto put in place mechanisms to ensure fiscal consolidation and accountability. The EACC and the Judiciary as well as the DPP have been sufficiently empowered to ensure prudent use of the scarce State resources. These institutions must now rise to the occasion.

In his first month in office, Ruto reduced the debt ceiling adjusted by Uhuru so that we don't find ourselves again in a situation where our debt as a percentage of GDP is above 55 per cent. Ruto’s fiscal discipline has led to a reduction in our fiscal deficits to below four per cent, projected to be under 3.6 per cent by 2027. 

Uhuru's loans were long term bonds, with all of them maturing during the infancy of Ruto's presidency. The government repaid the Eurobond in January and another is due for repayment this week. In the current budget, we are spending Sh1.3 trillion to pay these Uhuru debts. This is over 34 per cent of our budget, which is unacceptable.  

Now, do we need to borrow more money to pay Uhuru's debts? Of course not, we must take charge of our country by paying taxes and making the business environment attractive to investments. This is why we must fully support the Finance Bill to raise revenue to fund our national budget.

The Finance Bill proposes to impose tax on importation of goods that can be made locally, to protect local industries and create jobs for the youth. In 2022, Kenya lost over Sh400 billion due to the drought crisis, and lost much more during the 2023 El Nino rains.

Recent floods also led to the loss of over 200 lives while affecting over one million Kenyans and damaging infrastructure. What is our contribution to pollution? Ruto has been keen on a climate financing model whereby big manufacturers pay proportionately towards fighting the ravages of climate change. This is the wisdom behind the eco levy, imposed on these foreign big polluters.

The Russia – Ukraine conflict and other conflicts in the Middle East have also disrupted global market trends and he has been keen on calling them out. What is the need of using the dollar to buy bananas from Uganda? Why should African nations be treated differently by IMF and World Bank in terms of financing? We need to stand up for our country and support our president towards our renaissance. 

-Mr Agwenge is a Big Data Strategist 

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