Even as the Treasury unveils a raft of taxes for the new budget, there is an urgent need to curb the wastage of State resources and corruption.
Workers and businesses in Kenya’s soft economy are running out of capacity to absorb additional levies and taxes.
New taxes and levies will saddle traders, who have raised concerns about deteriorating business conditions with additional operating costs.
This could trigger job cuts and a freeze in hiring plans, which would be a blow to the more than one million young people who graduate from universities and colleges annually.
Inflation has also wiped out the 5.6 percent salary increase offered to the private sector workers last year, making it the third year in a row when the pay raises lagged behind the soaring cost of living. This underlines the burden workers will face with additional taxes.
We appreciate that the Treasury requires additional revenues to ease the cash squeeze caused by enormous interest payments.
President William Ruto has pledged to lift millions out of poverty, but he is facing challenges from the high cost of living and growing debt repayments, which have narrowed the State’s fiscal space.
We urge the State to clamp down on wastage and corruption. The lack of punitive action against perpetrators of theft means that culprits always get away after dipping their fingers in the cookie jar.
The State needs to make good its pledge to cut down on non-essential expenses, such as foreign travel, and hospitality as well as stop creating offices that raise spending but add little or no value to the taxpayer.
Painfully, the abuse of taxpayers’ cash comes as the Treasury is struggling to secure funds for critical projects like building roads and equipping hospitals with medicine and diagnosis kits.
This eggs on the thieving public servants to continue fattening their pockets while service delivery continues to deteriorate.
Kenya has a history of multi-billion shilling corruption scandals that have failed to result in high-profile convictions. This must change.