7/19/2024
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Kenyan president bows to pressure, makes major concessions


By Mariama Diallo
Saturday July 6, 2024


Kenyan President William Ruto speaks during a press conference in Nairobi on July 5, 2024. Ruto announced a series of budget cuts and reforms to replace a tax-increase measure that set off weeks of violent protests.

Kenyan President William Ruto on Friday ordered significant cuts in the federal budget along with other government reforms to pay off a crushing debt burden in a move seen as a concession to popular disapproval of a tax bill that sparked violent protests.

Following weeks of protests during which dozens of people reportedly were killed, Ruto withdrew a finance bill intended to raise $2.7 billion — most of it from tax increases — to pay off debt.

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Ruto instead offered a compromise: a plan is to cut $1.39 billion from the budget and borrow the difference.

To make it work, Ruto said, his government will eliminate 47 state corporations with overlapping or duplicative functions and reduce by 50% the number of government advisors, among many other actions.

Filling the positions of chief administrative secretaries is suspended, Ruto said, and government funds will not be used for the operations of the offices of the first lady, the spouse of the deputy president and the prime cabinet secretary.

And there's more.

"Public servants who attain retirement age of 60 shall be required to immediately proceed on retirement with no extensions,” Ruto said.

Also, government purchase of new motor vehicles is suspended for 12 months, except for security agencies, and all nonessential travel by state and public officers is suspended, the president said.

Some of the actions were on a list of demands made by protesters.

Ruto also said he has appointed an independent task force to carry out a comprehensive, forensic audit of the country's public debt.

"This audit will provide Kenyans with clarity on the extent and nature of our debt and how public resources have been expanded and also recommend proposals for managing public debt in a manner that is sustainable and does not burden future generations," he said.

Nearly 40 people died and 360 were injured nationwide since the protests started three weeks ago, according to Kenya's National Commission on Human Rights.



 





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