Kenya: Ruto cuts government spending

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NAIROBI, Kenya - After weeks of deadly protests in Kenya, President William Ruto has succumbed to pressure from the young generation,  forcing him to trim his office's spending by taking a significant cut, with a total of $1.39 billion expected to be saved in this financial year. 

At State House in Nairobi,  Ruto agreed to scrap budgetary allocations for the office of the First Lady, spouses of the Deputy President, and the Prime Cabinet Secretary. The allocations, he said, will be removed.

He said the government seeks to align expenditures with the budgetary implications of the withdrawal of the Finance Bill, 2024. The bill was dropped after deadly protests in the East African nation. 

"Budget lines providing for the operations of the offices of the First Lady, the spouses of the Deputy President, and the Prime Cabinet Secretary shall be removed," the President said while addressing the nation on Friday.

Going forward,  he said, confidential budgets in various executive offices will be cut by 50%. This includes renovations across government offices.  The President further suspended non-essential travel by state and public officers.

"No state officer and public servant shall participate in public contributions/ Harambees. The Attorney General is hereby directed to prepare and submit legislation to this effect and develop a mechanism for structured and transparent contributions for public, charitable, and philanthropic purposes," he added.

The President said the government has struck a middle ground and proposed to the National Assembly a budget cut of Sh177 billion ($1.39B)  and borrow the difference. He mentioned that hiring of more teachers and medical interns will be the government’s priority. 

"The additional borrowing will increase our fiscal deficit from 3.3 percent to 4.6 percent and will be used to protect funding of critical government," he said.

The demonstrations, which started peacefully before turning violent, have become the biggest threat to Ruto’s two-year-old presidency. Campaign groups have documented hundreds of arrests and at least 25 deaths linked to the government’s heavy-handed response, raising fears of rights backsliding.

Ruto said in a televised address to the nation that Kenya’s budget deficit was now projected at 4.6% of gross domestic product in the 2024/25 financial year, up from an earlier estimate of 3.3%.

GAROWE ONLINE

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