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Kenya Politics: Better Preparedness Prevented Higher Death Toll During Kenya Protest, Says President Ruto

We either borrow or raise local taxes; there is no magic to run the economy. It is a sacrifice worth making to increase the local tax revenue – William Ruto

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President of Kenya William Ruto has revealed that he had no option but to mobilize the military to protect the lives of protestors and innocent people. Ruto was responding to a team of journalists who were interacting with him regarding the youth protests against the Finance Bill at State House, Kenya.

Ruto acknowledged having received intelligence about suspected criminals planning to infiltrate peaceful demonstrators, stating that this informed the decisions he undertook to contain the situation, which could have had severe outcomes.

He stated that had he not prepared well to regain normalcy, the death toll during the protests would have surpassed 19.

However, the President emphasized that those arrested will be arraigned before the courts of law based on arrests made by the Kenya police and CCTV footage of those who attacked Parliament.

He was quick to emphasize that any killer cop who acted beyond what is provided for in the law will face action. He added that a police officer doesn’t become one only while in uniform; they also have IDs to present while conducting arrests. Therefore, officers and protesters who operate beyond the law know the consequences of any illegal actions.

Ruto commended the police for doing their best to regain normalcy but stated they will account for any excesses. When asked to comment on the statement by his deputy regarding extrajudicial killings during the protests, Ruto advised journalists to interview his deputy about those comments.

Local Taxing is a Sacrifice Worth Making to Raise Local Revenue, Says President Ruto

The President acknowledged that the crisis Kenya is facing is not a product of the two years since he assumed the presidency. He noted that there has been a youth bulge and demographic shift ignored for a very long time, which is why he has been intentional and deliberate in tackling issues affecting young people in Kenya. He stated that Kenya has about 4.5 million young people who have studied or not but have no jobs. Under his leadership, about 164,000 young people are working under the Kenya housing program and over 5,000 in digital jobs.

On the issue of the Finance Bill, Ruto said it seeks to increase revenue by 10 billion to roll out ICT hubs in Kenya, which will enable hiring and training youth, including exporting labor to create more opportunities.

The Finance Bill is not an invention of William Ruto but an instrument that has been in place since independence, he emphasized.

He further clarified that the Bill proposal initially had 346 billion of new revenue collection avenues, but this was reduced by over 140 billion after consultations with Members of Parliament. The reduction left only about 200 billion in revenue collection avenues.

While he considered dropping the bill, he expressed concern that this would set Kenya back in achieving progress, although his intentions were to work hard and pull Kenya from the debt trap. Kenya will have to borrow a trillion shillings to run the government. Forty-six thousand teachers will not be confirmed, farmers will not be supported with over 2 billion, and farmers’ debts will not be addressed, including coffee developments and importing potatoes from Europe.

He said MPs are representatives of the people and are not fools or mad to have deliberated on internal sourcing to raise revenue. He added that one day Kenya will recognize that the MPs who voted yes are the true heroes of Kenya, unchaining it from a debt trap and leading it to the future.

He admitted that Kenya is in a difficult budgetary financial position and expressed optimism that the current crisis will bring Kenyans together.

At least 2.3 trillion was raised from local revenue, with about 1.1 trillion going to debt financing and 1 trillion to salaries, though funds for education were borrowed.

“We either borrow or raise local taxes; there is no magic to run the economy. I have explained that if we continue borrowing, we shall go down the cliff. It is a sacrifice worth making to increase the local tax revenue,” he emphasized.

kaahwaivan@gmail.com, @IvanKaahwa via X

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