President William Ruto Second Media Roundtable

President William Ruto Second Media Roundtable

The first media roundtable took place in January, after the President’s 100 days in office. Yesterday, a second interview was held in State House, Nairobi from 7:15 pm. It was broadcasted live on television and radio stations. 

This comes as Kenyans continue to share their concerns regarding the rising cost of living and the new proposed Finance Bill 2023

Did you miss the interview? Here are the essential things that were discussed.

Sudden Weight Loss

Kenyans got worried about Ruto when he took office as he seemed slimmer than when he was campaigning. Some said he was sick while others assumed it was his exercise regimen. However, the President’s response to Kenyans was plain and simple. 

“I had an original fit that ran amok the last one and a half to two years. We went into elections and you know when you have elections there is a lot of pressure, sometimes you take out the pressure on food (…)  I decided to cut it down because my friend ile kibarua niko nayo si kidogo (I have a lot of work ahead). So you need to be alert for things to happen as planned.”

State of the Economy

The President stated that when the election results were announced, the first people to approach him were the oil marketers. They informed him that they were in a crisis and there would be a stock out as the government had not paid them KSH 65 Billion which was for subsidy. The President went on and sat with his economic team only to realize there was no fuel crisis but an economic issue due to the shortage of dollars

To fix the issue, they reinstated the Interbank Forex market. This shrunk the spread from 12% to 2 Ksh. The government negotiated for credit in all petroleum products to ease the dollar pressure. 

President Ruto also stated that on fuel, he has removed a 3.5% road development levy, 2% of IDF, and 8% VAT on gas. When asked about Kenya’s debt, the President said the national debt now stands at 8.8 to 9 Trillion. He was firm with his position, that his government will not borrow and assured Kenyans that we would live within our means.

The Commander in Chief also agreed to publish the public debt register for audit and to hold everyone accountable.  

New Proposed Finance Bill

According to the President, Kenyans are not being overtaxed. If you put into context other countries like South Africa, Morocco, and Tunisia whose tax GDP is 23% to 28%, Kenya is behind with 14%. The new Finance bill seeks to increase Kenya’s GDP from 14% to 16% to decrease debt and finance government projects. 

The President also made it clear that the 3% social housing fund is not a tax. It is a contribution given to the government so that it can assist the unemployed. This will make it possible to have a fund that can assure the less fortunate to own a house. Since the 3% of the basic pay is not tax, the money can be withdrawn after some years or in retirement. It is, therefore, not a must for one to acquire a house if he or she does not need one.    

Cost of Living

President Ruto said that the budget has been prepared for the hustlers. He has injected 3.5 Billion to reduce the cost of fertilizers to farmers. As a result, the government has registered 4 million farmers for the first time increasing the production field to 200 acres. 

Maize farmerPhoto: Courtesy Soko Directory
Maize farmer
Photo: Courtesy Soko Directory

He also stated that Kenya Commercial Bank gave the government 25 Billion, which was used to buy rice, maize, beans, and cooking oil. In return, maize flour dropped from 200 to 170, and 5kg cooking oil was 1,500 but now stands at 1,100. Food prices are, therefore, slowly dropping as production increases and as he continues to fight with cartels.  

Wrapping Up

President William Ruto was vocal that he wants Kenyans to take his government into account regarding how things are being carried out. He promised to change Kenya during his tenure and only asked for time to complete his plan. The President also asks the public to join hands with him as Kenya belongs to all of us.

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