The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has linked the violent demonstrations, spearheaded by opposition leader Raila Odinga, to the economic repercussions of President William Ruto’s elevated taxes outlined in the Finance Act 2023. In a document released this January, the IMF acknowledged the economic hardships faced by Kenyans due to these tax adjustments, expressing empathy for those adversely affected.
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The financial institution highlighted that a significant majority of local citizens are dissatisfied with the tax measures, resulting in an escalation in the cost of living amidst a weakened shilling. The report lamented the regrettable turn of some protests into violence, specifically referencing demonstrations associated with Raila Odinga’s opposition movement.
“The discontent reflected existing concerns about the rising cost of living, alongside efforts to remove fuel subsidies and increase the electricity tariff,” stated the IMF document, emphasizing the broader issues fueling public dissatisfaction.
Despite acknowledging the public unrest, the IMF stood by President William Ruto, asserting that the tax revenue measures were a necessary response to address fiscal challenges facing the country. Notably, the IMF emphasized that these policies aimed at tackling debt vulnerabilities, with Kenya’s domestic loan reaching Ksh5 trillion for the first time in history, contributing to an overall debt of Ksh11 trillion as of December last year.