Deputy President William Ruto has slammed the Jubilee administration for its growing appetite for foreign loans.
Speaking at Friends Church Kivaywa, Matete, Lugari Constituency, Kakamega county, on Sunday, the DP said the country’s public debt had complicated life for Kenyans.
“It is time we elected leaders and those seeking elective posts floated solutions that will unhook citizens from the debt menace.
Ruto’s change of tact comes barely after reports shows that public debt repayment will for the first time cross the Sh1trillion mark from July, underlining the burden of mounting government borrowing.
The Treasury in February disclosures to Parliament that it will pay Sh1.023 trillion for loans in the year starting July, making it the single-largest expenditure and more than double the Sh435.7 billion that taxpayers paid for debt four years ago.
And to repay Sh1.023 trillion loan, Kenya will require an average of Sh2.8 billion daily in the financial year when the repayment of principal sums of a majority of the commercial and semi-concessional loans fall due.
However, Ruto while drumming up support for the economic empowerment of Kenyans which he has dubbed ‘Hustler Nation Empowerment’ at the grassroot level was geared towards reducing the country’s appetite for loans and helping offset existing credit facilities owed to countries like China.
“When everyone is empowered, citizens will be able to pay taxes, and the government will have enough revenue. We will not resort to lenders like China to extend loans to us. Those loans we have acquired are bringing us bad luck. I think you have all heard that as of today, even the unborn babies owe our lenders. The only way to end this indebtedness is to enable citizens in the villages to do lucrative businesses,” said Ruto.
Interestingly, as of January this year, Kenya’s public debt stood at Sh7trillion, and the figure is expected to continue growing.
The Treasury recently said it would borrowing more to plug the deficit in the 2021/2022 budget.
Ruto’s remarks cames days after President Uhuru Kenyatta took a swipe at him and even dared him to resign for criticizing the same government he was serving in.
“There is no need to incite Kenyans against one another. You speak from the two sides of the mouth that the government is bad yet you take credit for what we have achieved as a government. How many governments do we have? Isn’t it one? If you see the good be part of it, if you only see the bad, walk away. Let’s respect each other,” said Uhuru.
Two years ago, Ruto was a strong defender of the Jubilee government’s appetite for foreign loans, arguing the borrowing was still within manageable levels.
Ruto was confident with his defense despite concerns raised earlier by the International Monetary Funds (IMF) and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).