State officials' lack of empathy inexcusable

By - Sep 26th 2023

The sharp spike in fuel prices, which breached the Sh200 mark for the first time, has understandably been met with consternation as Kenyans, already hit by a high cost of living, brace for tough times ahead.

The government says the move to increase fuel prices is beyond its control citing a rise in the cost of oil in the international market and reduced production by OPEC countries. This even as experts say the main cause of high fuel prices in the country compared to our neighbours is taxation.

According to economists, after the increase of VAT on fuel from eight per cent to 16 per cent in the Finance Act 2023, taxes and levies imposed on fuel now consist of nearly 55 per cent of the total cost.

We agree that the government needs to raise revenue to meet its obligations.

However, it can easily service its debt obligations and serve Kenyans if only it can cut down on unnecessary expenditure, and tackle wastage, including unnecessary travel by top State officials who appear to be suffering from itchy feet. 

Overtaxing Kenyans leads to reduced production and could even an underground economy.

Despite President William Ruto’s pledge to ensure austerity in government and a ban on unnecessary travel, Kenyans are yet to see its fruits.

Instead, most State officials are leading lavish lives, driving high-end cars and engaging in a property acquisition spree in upmarket estates, a sign of high-level corruption.

And instead of offering hope and solutions, some top officials resorted to irresponsible conduct.  As Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua noted, it is wrong for them to be arrogant or egocentric towards the people who have entrusted them with leadership.

While they claim to be telling Kenyans hard truths so that they can prepare themselves, the lack of empathy towards people already struggling to make ends meet is inexcusable. 

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