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February 23, 2019

High taxes will not pay off the debt, Raila says

Nasa leader Raila Odinga at Opoda farm in Bondo on Saturday/LAMECK BARAZA
Nasa leader Raila Odinga at Opoda farm in Bondo on Saturday/LAMECK BARAZA

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has asked the government not to overburden citizens with high taxes and instead fight corruption to repay debts.

Raila said the money lost in corruption is enough to bail out the country from foreign debt without imposing high taxes. “If we unite in the war against corruption, the country will raise the additional funds for development.”

Addressing journalists in Bondo at his Opoda farm on Saturday, the ODM leader said he is ready to advise Treasury CS Henry Rotich on how to repay debts without overburdening citizens. He told the CS he improved the country’s economy during the grand coalition government without imposing high taxes.

“I will advise him for free on how to go about the issue without hurting mwananchi the way he has resorted to.” Raila said the country must meet its development needs without escalating the cost of living.

“The citizens are already overburdened by the high cost of living. Leaders should not allow citizens to continue to suffer and not offer any solution.” He said there must be a conversation on how to deal with the debt without hurting residents, even if it means consulting developed countries.

Raila said discussions and tough actions are the only way out of the accumulating debt.

“We must find a solution to the 16 per cent VAT on fuel for the country to move in the right direction,” he added. He said the country must remain united despite calls to manage the rising cost of living.

MPs have threatened to summon Rotich over the increased fuel prices. They voted to suspend the long-planned increase for two more years. The increase has been deferred before because Kenya had expected Turkana oil to be exported by then. That hasn’t happened and the VAT on petroleum products went into effect.

The amendment to the Finance Bill, 2018, moved by National Assembly Junet Mohamed, was meant to cushion Kenyans from high cost of living. The MPs resoundingly approved the proposal, pushing the 16 per cent VAT to September 1, 2020.

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