Raila to Ruto: Here is my alternative to tax plans to fund budget 

Azimio Party leader Raila Odinga addressing participants during the presentation of the Finance Bill 2023

Azimio Party leader Raila Odinga addressing participants during the presentation of the Finance Bill 2023 by the Azimio Economic Council at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF), Nairobi on June 8, 2023. 

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has offered President William Ruto a 10-point economic blueprint he says is a better alternative to the high taxes proposed by the government in the Finance Bill, 2023.

Mr Odinga told President Ruto that he was focusing on the wrong areas to finance his first budget while ignoring critical areas that can generate billions to run the economy.

Top on Mr Odinga’s proposals is stopping the duplication of county roles and responsibilities, which, he said, amounts to double allocation for resources. 

The former premier cited health, a devolved function that the national government has allocated a whooping Sh35 billion.

Mr Odinga is also proposing that the Kwenya Kwanza administration should do what he called “zero-based budgeting”— start from scratch instead of using former President Kenyatta’s budget as their baseline.

“Every budget must start at ground zero where everything has to be justified,” Mr Odinga said yesterday during a meeting with the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party economic technical team to analyse the Finance Bill, 2023.

Government spending

In his third proposal, Mr Odinga has told the government to cut down on spending and live frugally instead of growing the size of the budget.

The Azimio leader has also called on the government to seal corruption loopholes and curb wastage in the executive that lead to loss of revenue instead of imposing more taxes on overburdened Kenyans.

“Billions of shillings are lost to the government, so Instead of imposing new taxes, seal the loopholes that lead to loss of revenue,” Mr Odinga said. In his fifth proposal, Mr Odinga, criticising the government over its non-essential expenditures which are financed by taxpayers, told President Ruto to stop such spending, including the appointment of Chief Administrative Secretaries. 

Azimio leaders

From left: Roots Party leader George Wajackoya, Former Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, Narc Kenya Leader Martha Karua, Azimio Party leader Raila Odinga, Wiper Party leader Kalozo Musyoka and Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni following presentation of the Finance Bill 2023 by Azimio Economic Council at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF), Nairobi on June 8, 2023.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

Mr Odinga also wants the size of the executive reduced to save money.

“The truth is, the cash crunch has been caused by economic mismanagement, wasteful spending, corruption and hiring of incompetent personnel. This worsening economic situation has been manufactured in State House and the Office of the President in the past eight or so months,” Mr Odinga said.

The former Prime Minister also decried the many domestic and international travels which are not adding any value to the taxpayers
“Cut non-essential domestic and international travel,” Mr Odinga said.

He hit out at Parliament, which has been allocated Sh41 billion in the 2023/2024 budget, saying, most of the money will be used by MPs to globe trot.

Mr Odinga also called on President Ruto to freeze out-of-station, house and domestic allowances for cabinet and principal secretaries.

In order to cushion the public from paying more taxes, Mr Odinga also told President Ruto to stop corruption and theft of public funds which he said is leading to the ‘bleeding’ of taxpayers' money meant for offering of essential services.

"Withdraw bill"

“Finally, we ask Ruto to humble himself, withdraw this Bill, offer an apology and seek forgiveness from Kenyans for the anxiety caused, then begin afresh,” Mr Odinga said.

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua said the budget being pushed by President Ruto is just meant to finance luxuries in the offices of the President, Deputy President and the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.

President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi at State House

President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and a host of Cabinet Secretaries during a Cabinet Meeting held at State House Nairobi on March 21, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

In the budget estimates tabled by Budget and Appropriation Committee chairman Ndindi Nyoro on Wednesday, State House has been allocated Sg6.8 billion, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s office will get Sh3.7 billion while Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi will get Sh1.2 billion.

“Cars are not essential, coming to an office does not mean you buy new cars even if the ones that were available can still be used,” Ms Karua said.

The Opposition coalition also blamed President Ruto for excessive borrowing, while expressing concerns that it is on an upward trajectory instead of coming down as promised by the government.

“In September 2022, when [former President] Uhuru Kenyatta officially handed over to Ruto, Kenya’s total debt was Sh8.701 trillion. Of this, Sh4.33 trillion was external debt while Sh4.366 was domestic debt.”

“As at March 2023, that is within six months after Ruto took over, Kenya’s debt rose from Sh8.701 trillion to Sh9.390 trillion. Our debt rose by Sh689 billion in six months under Ruto,” Mr Odinga said.

The coalition also pointed out that external debt, which stood at Sh4.33 trillion in September 2022, rose to Sh4.851 trillion in March 2023. 

Domestic debt rose from Sh4.366 trillion in September 2022 to Sh4.539 in March 2023.