Azimio Leader Raila Odinga, on Thursday, June 8, asked President William Ruto to drop the Finance Bill and offered him solutions he believed would lower the cost of living countrywide.
Addressing the press during the Azimio Economic Council forum, Raila insisted that his pointers were poised to place the economy on the path of prosperity without burdening Kenyans with additional taxes.
The Azimio leader further demanded the Head of State drop the Finance Bill and apologise to Kenyans.
Ruto was also pushed to stop duplicating county roles and responsibilities, arguing that the Ministry of Health was consuming a huge chunk of government revenue, yet health was a devolved function.
President William Ruto (with green tie) commissions the CyberKnife Centre at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital (KUTRRH), Kiambu County, on April 24, 2023. With him are Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha (second right), and Prime Cabinet Secretary, Musalia Mudavadi (right).
Raila further challenged the President to adopt a zero-based budgeting formula without referencing any other budgets his predecessors implemented during their eras.
“Ruto should adopt a zero-based budgeting and not take the previous budget as his baseline,” he explained.
Regarding lowering the cost of living, Raila stated that Ruto should cut down on the budget scheduled to be read on Thursday, June 15 and seal all loopholes that lead to the loss of revenue rather than increasing taxes.
“Do not impose new taxes, seal the loopholes that lead to the loss of revenue,” Raila Odinga emphatically stated.
The Azimio leader also took issue with the appointment of Chief Administrative Secretaries (CASs), noting that the directive was misconceived, equating it to a country living beyond its means.
On March 23, 2024, the High Court barred CASs from assuming offices until the determination of a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Katiba Institute. The petitioners argued that Ruto created 50 positions instead of the recommended 27.
Justice Hedwig Ong’undi, who presided over the case, further temporarily barred the appointed CASs from drawing any salary, remuneration, or other benefits until the court ruled.
The former Prime Minister further called on the President to reduce the size of the government, noting that the excess personnel were eating into the economy by ballooning the wage bill.
Raila challenged Ruto to “cut non-essential domestic and international travel.” The proposal came barely a week after reports indicated he sought approximately Ksh2 billion for foreign travel.
The opposition also advocated abolishing allowances for key government employees, including Cabinet Secretaries, to increase national revenue.
“Freeze ministerial out-of-station, house and domestic allowances for Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries,” he advised while asking Ruto to tighten the fight against corruption and theft of public resources.
On Monday, May 22, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji was put on the spot to explain why high-profile corruption cases had been withdrawn since Ruto took office in September 2022.
Haji, who was being vetted by parliament for the position of Director-General of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), explained that most of the cases were trumped up hence the decision to withdraw.
“Withdrawals are provided for under the constitution, and it is a right where there is a miscarriage of justice.
“We must, no matter who that person is in the society, even when that person comes from the high and mighty, that withdrawal must be done if it is justified,” he defended himself and Ruto’s administration.
On his last advice to Ruto on how to run the government, Raila remarked that passing the Finance Bill would lead the country into a crisis.
“Finally, we ask Ruto to humble himself, withdraw this bill, offer an apology and seek forgiveness from Kenyans for the anxiety caused and then begin afresh,” Raila concluded.
On Wednesday, June 7, Raila threatened to call for nationwide protests should parliamentarians pass the Finance Bill, 2023.
ODM party leader Raila Odinga (right) with President William Ruto at Nyayo Stadium, in Nairobi during a past Jamhuri Day celebration.