President Ruto roots for Finance Bill despite disapproval

mukami kimathi funeral

President William Ruto speaks at the funeral of Mukami Kimathi, widow of freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi, at their home in Njabini, Nyandarua County, on May 13, 2023.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition, has accused the Kenya Kwanza regime of increasing taxes on basic commodities, which has increased the cost of living.

Kenyans should brace for tough economic times ahead as the Kenya Kwanza government has vowed to go ahead with the enactment of the Finance Bill, 2023 despite criticism from several quarters.

President William Ruto on Saturday defended the Bill, which he said aims to expand the tax base while factoring in important aspects. The Bill will expand this year’s budget to Sh2.8 trillion, up from the current Sh2 trillion passed in the 2021/22 financial year.

A section of Kenyans, including opposition leader Raila Odinga and workers' unions, have opposed the Bill, terming it burdensome.

The President says, however, that it is considerate of the common citizen as it seeks to expand the revenue stream while also promoting production.

President Ruto noted that his government has identified key areas in the tax regime, where the Bill seeks to reduce or abolish tax in order to ease the burden on ordinary citizens.

"I am requesting MPs to pass the proposals in the Finance Bill because we have worked on it. I have identified 20 areas to reduce the tax because I understand the tough economic times Kenyans are facing," said Dr Ruto

Mr Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition, has accused the Kenya Kwanza regime of increasing taxes on basic commodities, thereby increasing the cost of living.

He said the government's tax regime has occasioned unbearable economic times for Kenyans so they should reject the Bill, and has vowed to rally opposition legislators to shoot down the Bill.

"We must be ready to tell the government the truth and we must tell them the cost of living is high and that Kenyans are suffering," he said.

However, President Ruto said his government is on a mission to recover an economy destroyed by poor planning and strategies by the previous government. He appealed to Mr Odinga to give him time to save it.

"I also know that the cost of living is high but I found it high and I have been trying to bring it down," he said.

He blamed Mr Odinga for the high cost of living, saying he was part of the regime that mismanaged the economy.

He told the opposition leader, “You were part of the government that gave the millers the money for subsidy instead of giving it to farmers, who are producers. Please allow me to correct the situation.”

President Ruto said he is employing the economic strategies that the late former President Mwai Kibaki used to revive the economy.

President Ruto also defended the three percent proposal deduction from civil servants' salaries to fund the housing project, saying it will create employment for many jobless Kenyans.

President Ruto spoke in Njabini, Nyandarua County, at the funeral of freedom fighter Mukami Kimathi, widow of the late Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi.

Ms Kimathi died on May 5, aged 96.

Dr Ruto granted the request by Mau Mau freedom fighters to search Mr Kimathi’s grave and accord him a befitting State burial. He said the government will join hands with the Mau Mau freedom fighters to locate the grave.

"The old man has said you want to locate the body of Dedan Kimathi, who was chained as a criminal yet he was a freedom hero, for a decent burial. I assure you that the government will join you in searching for the gravesite and the remains of Dedan Kimathi in order to give him a decent burial.”

The President also said his government will set up a museum in honour of the independence hero, with all materials relating to the Mau Mau’s independence struggle.

Mukami’s burial brought together political rivals who have not been seeing eye to eye, including President Ruto and Mr Odinga, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni, and former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga.