Raila Odinga
Image: The-Star

The leaders of Azimio la Umoja have presented the government with a plan to reduce living expenses.

The National Dialogue Committee heard their recommendations on Tuesday during the most recent public hearing.

The Raila-led Coalition said in the plan that the present budget outlook is predicated on the introduction of faster taxes and significant borrowing.

The leaders claim that the national finances are hampered by high taxes and extensive borrowing, which raises the cost of life.

"Public expenditure should fulfill and promote Article 43 Rights as a priority. The state has a duty to fulfill the Act of the constitution rights to the highest attainable standards," they said.

The budget deficit and the currency rate are two more concerns that Azimio criticised the administration for contributing to the increase in the cost of living.

"Kenyan Shilling was about Sh120 to US$ in August 2022 but by September 2023 it had gone up to Sh150. The depreciation of the Kenya Shilling brings more suffering from escalated prices of imports that affect access to inputs and food imports," Azimio said.

They criticised the Kenya Kwanza government for presiding over historically the most contentious Budget ever, which even regular residents, they claimed, could be construed as evidence of poor economic management.

The plan emphasised how waste, inefficiencies, and careless use of resources—as well as corruption and theft of public funds—all contributed to the growth in living expenses.

"Eradicate theft of public money, wastages and holding public officers accountable will save taxpayers billions that can be directed towards lowering the high cost of living," they said.

The leaders of Azimio claimed that the 193 billion spent on domestic and foreign travel was excessive.

They compared the sum to other, more pressing concerns for Kenyans that had been cut, like as funding for social protection, 70 billion from home taxes, and resources for counties.

"Total debt service is estimated at 65 percent of ordinary revenue using the current CBK indicative exchange rate. However, the aggressive ordinary revenue target of 2.57 trillion is unlikely to be achieved considering sluggish economic performance," the leaders said.

According to the idea, Kenya Kwanza is being hypocritical by utilising interest rates as a tool for monetary policy because they encourage banks and owners of financial assets to lend to the government.

A structural flaw where savings deposits are poorly rewarded and lending rates and the spread for banks are kept at three times or more the savings rates has persisted due to consistently high interest rates over the past year.

This, according to them, discourages both saving and investing.

To encourage output, the Raila-led Coalition suggested to the Dialogue team that loan rates be lowered.

Additionally, they demand tax breaks on fuel, food, energy, SMEs, and the housing levy.

"Review extensively or repeal in totality the Finance Act 2023. Introduce and implement necessary subsidies like on fuel, energy, and production for a specified period of time," the leaders proposed.

"There should also be an enactment of essential legislations and policy guidelines along with administrative measures to cut down or curb on misuse of public funds by state officials."