Azimio leader Raila Odinga has suggested ways President William Ruto’s government should embrace to lower the cost of living., noting that one year on since the inception of the Kenya Kwanza administration, it is now time to reset economic policy broadly.
The Azimio leader said transforming a nation takes hard, dedicated, and honest labor of leaders and citizens.
He, however, said no nation is beyond reconstruction and transformation because all it takes is leadership.
“There is a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets, and our government. We are caught in a cycle where reduced spending power leads to loss of jobs which leads to even less spending; where people can’t borrow because rates charged are too high, yet lack of borrowing slows growth and leads to even less credit,” he said.
The Azimio boss said that the reduction in the cost of living is a priority economic imperative.
He said to achieve this, the government should provide some basic relief to citizens, including reduction of taxes; and stimulating production.
Raila said to release resources to achieve these objectives, the government must cut the budget by an estimated 500 billion shillings.
“We must cut fuel taxes and raise social welfare payments. At this time of duress, we demand tax cuts, not increases. Kenyans needed to see their taxes go down, not up. We believe the current taxation regime is not sustainable,” he said.
He said the government must stimulate production by reducing interest rates to stimulate economic activity.
Azimio wants Kenya Kwanza to continue with and expand the Kazi Mtaani program.
Raila said the government should stop mismanagement of public finances.
He said State departments with overlapping functions need to be scrapped.
“Why do we have coordination of international development partnerships at both the Deputy president’s office and the ministry of foreign affairs, complete with budget lines while the National Treasury also runs an external resources department? At the same time, we need to stop the duplication of devolved functions at the national level,” Raila said.
He said there should be realistic debt management because Kenya is caught in a debt rut where it has resorted to borrowing more to repay debt.
Raila said the National Treasury ought to ask creditors to push off payments falling due to a future date rather than keep paying it.
He said that the country should not default on taxes.
Azimio wants the government’s key initiatives, including the Hustler Fund, to be reviewed by a forum comprised of the governments, both political parties, the business community and civil society.