June 2, 2023 4:29 pm

Expanding debt repayments, income collection shortfalls and higher costs of standard commodities have squeezed Kenya’s economy below the Ruto administration.

Kenyan President William Ruto has accused the tax collection agency’s employees of cutting government income by engaging in corruption and colluding with tax evaders.

“Collusion, wanton bribe-taking and common corruption continue to pervade operations of KRA [the Kenya Revenue Authority],” the president told KRA’s management and board members at an occasion streamed reside on his social media pages on Friday.

Ruto was elected in August right after pledging to uplift the poor but has had a rough time in workplace so far as expanding government debt repayments, income collection shortfalls and higher costs of standard commodities have squeezed the economy and led to protests.

As of January, Kenya’s external debt stood at $34bn, element of a large debt profile Ruto inherited from his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

Annual interest payments on domestic debt alone have surged from 180 billion shillings ($1.34bn) practically a decade ago when the debt binge began to 680 billion shillings ($five.09bn) this year, heaping stress on the government’s money flow, presidential adviser David Ndii stated in April.

Public service staff have complained of delays in salary payments in current months even though regional authorities have threatened to shut down their operations to protest against delayed money disbursements from the national government.

Ruto charged on Friday that government efforts to enhance tax collections are getting hampered by unscrupulous KRA employees who spent their time assisting corrupt taxpayers to evade paying.

The agency has but to comment about the allegation.

Kenyan authorities have been fighting corruption, and the tax collection agency has come below scrutiny. In May perhaps 2019, 75 KRA employees have been arrested on suspicion of abetting tax evasion and bribery.

On Friday, Ruto also accused the agency’s employees of resisting and sabotaging attempts to digitise income collection in the previous to avert the government from sealing loopholes.

“I have to be candid for the reason that I have a job to do,” the president stated.

KRA has not issued its most recent tax collection figures, but regional media stated it collected 1.57 trillion shillings ($11.5bn) in the ten months to the finish of April, which means it has just two months to meet the government’s target of two.1 trillion shillings by the finish of June.

In terms of tax collected as a proportion of annual financial output, Kenya has been underperforming other nations like South Africa, the president stated.

To shore up income, his administration has proposed a raft of tax increases in proposals that will be presented to parliament subsequent month, angering citizens and the opposition.