President William Ruto has defended the proposed high taxes, asserting that difficult decisions need to be made in order to propel Kenya towards the next phase of development.
Speaking during a church service at Christ Church Cathedral in Kakamega County on Sunday, Ruto said that for Kenya to progress to the level of first-world countries like Singapore and Malaysia, similar decisions must be taken as those made by the developed nations.
While criticizing the opposition led by Azimio leader Raila Odinga for opposing the tax increase, the Head of State emphasized that he has no alternative but to make tough choices for the betterment of the Kenyan people.
Ruto’s administration has come under harsh criticism after the Finance Bill was tabled in Parliament last week and the subsequent budget that seeks to introduce high taxes for most sectors and commodities, including basic necessities.
“Those opposing these reforms have been essentially telling us that they desire Kenya to be on par with Malaysia and Singapore. They fail to acknowledge that Singapore was once comparable to Kibera slums; however, today, it stands among the leading first-world countries, thanks to their meticulous planning and implementation of housing initiatives and other developmental programs,” Ruto said.
Ruto further noted that Kenya cannot achieve development akin to Singapore’s while enduring frequent protests and demonstrations, alluding to the opposition’s continuous protests against the new tax regime and the controversial Financial Bill 2023.
“These games must cease,” he added.
He said Kenya must adopt the strategy of the late former President Mwai Kibaki in prioritizing revenue collection in order to foster development.
The Head of State emphasized that the time has come for the country to reduce its reliance on foreign debts and explore avenues for generating internal revenue to achieve self-sufficiency.
He also stressed the need to minimize the importation of materials that are readily available locally, such as cement, fish, metals, and furniture, hence the decision to impose heavy taxes on importers.
According to Ruto, these materials should be manufactured within Kenya to create employment opportunities for the youth.
Ruto explained that the Finance Bill 2023 aims to streamline policies for the benefit of the common Mwananchi and underscored the significance of the 3 percent salary cuts, noting that they will play a crucial role in generating employment for the unemployed population.