You are killing hustlers with new taxes plans, Raila Odinga tells President Ruto

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga in Migori on September 8, 2023.

Photo credit: George Odiwuor

Opposition leader, Raila Odinga on Saturday (September 9) launched fresh attacks on President William Ruto, accusing the government of planning to introduce more taxes.

Mr Odinga said the ruling Kenya Kwanza alliance has abandoned the “hustlers” it campaigned to protect.

The utterances come at a time when the administration has proposed to increase deductions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund. There is another plan to introduce a Diaspora Fund that will see Kenyans outside the country pay into a kitty.

Further, there is a proposal to establish a kitty for the unemployed, with workers surrendering one per cent of their gross pay to the fund.

Employers, too, will have to match the deduction in the latest push by the government to raid the pay of salaried Kenyans.

This comes months after Dr Ruto’s administration imposed the uncapped 1.5 per cent housing tax on employees’ monthly gross salary, a contribution matched by employers.

Mr Odinga said Kenyans are already burdened by the high cost of living.

“The beast of burden is tired and exhausted. The cost of living has gone high even after Kenya Kwanza deceived ordinary citizens that it would stand by them,” he said in Shamakhokho, Vihiga County.

Mr Odinga said the opposition asked the government not to increase taxes but the plea was ignored.

He added that the Kenya Kwanza government “bought” opposition lawmakers to help it force the passage of the Finance Act, 2023.

“Prices of essential commodities have gone up,” said Mr Odinga, who added that the opposition would use the ongoing bipartisan dialogue to push for the lowering of the cost of living.

The opposition team in the talks is led by Wiper Party chief Kalonzo Musyoka, with National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah heading the government side.

“We have prioritised the cost of living at the talks. We will also address the issue of Ruto moving around the country launching devolved government projects,” Mr Odinga said.

He insisted that the county governments of Vihiga, Kakamega and Busia are under his party – the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

During a recent five-day tour of Western Kenya, President Ruto launched several infrastructure projects.

Mr Odinga said health and housing are devolved functions and asked the government to allocate additional funds to counties.

Vihiga Senator, Godfrey Osotsi, said Mr Odinga would remain firm in fighting for Kenyans.

He added that the Kenya Kwanza administration has reneged on the promise of bringing down the cost of living and prices of basics.

“People are suffering under a system that promised to lower the cost of living,” the senator said.

Former Kakamega governor and ODM Deputy Party Leader, Wycliffe Oparanya, said Kenya Kwanza won the August 9, 2022 election fraudulently, “killing the dream Azimio One Kenya had for the country”.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Odinga and a host of opposition politicians attended the pre-wedding of Mr Michael Orengo and Ms Samantha Luseno in Wodanga, Sabatia constituency.

Michael is the son of Siaya Governor James Orengo.

Mr Odinga and Mr Oparanya said inter-marriage is the best way of fighting tribalism, “which is deep-rooted in this country”