‘You will finally appreciate my taxation policy,’ President Ruto defends additional taxes

‘You will finally appreciate my taxation policy,’ President Ruto defends additional taxes

President William Ruto has defended the government plan to introduce additional taxes on Kenyans, stating that it is part of a broader strategy to enhance the country’s revenue and reduce reliance on borrowing.

The President made the remarks during an engagement forum with the Harvard Business School students at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday May 14, 2024.

Speaking during the event, President Ruto acknowledged that taxes are painful but necessary to help government reduce borrowing.

He noted that the national debt stands at Ksh10 trillion, inherited from previous administration.

”My drive is to push Kenya, possibly this year we will be at 16% from 14 %. I want in my term, God willing, to leave it at between 20 and 22%.

“Its going to be difficult, I have a lot to explaining to do, people will complain but I know finally they will appreciate that the money we go to borrow from the World Bank is savings from other countries,” said Ruto.

Ruto also defended his international travels, terming them as efforts to seek foreign investment and job opportunities for Kenyans.

The proposed Finance Bill 2024 has ignited significant public debate and dissatisfaction among Kenyans, with concerns about the rising cost of living and the impact of additional taxes on businesses.

Top on the list is the increase in the price of bread, and a mandatory tax for all motor vehicle owners in the country as the government funds the 2024-2025 budget.

He added, “And I’m not comparing ourselves with OECD countries. Countries like France are at 45% others are higher. So I persuaded and made a case to the people of Kenya that we must begin to enhance our revenue because if we are a serious State we must be able to enhance our taxes.”

The President also explained that the push to raise more revenue through taxes was part of ensuring that ‘we live within our means’.

“When I came into office I told everybody to tighten up your belts. I am not going to preside over a bankrupt country. I’m not going to preside over a country in debt distress. We have to cut our spending,” he stated.

His remarks came a few days after the controller of the budget raised concerns about wasteful spending including excessive domestic and international travels by government officials.

Meanwhile, the closure of businesses and job losses in the private sector have been attributed to increased taxation in the country.

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