There is always more heat than light whenever the emotive question of Kenya’s public debt comes up for debate.
In many instances, even economic analysts are often more inclined to be either on the offensive and or on the defensive.
Truth be said, the secrecy and uncertainty around the real extent of public debt in Kenya has brought about an even more serious concern – while the opposition claim it is nearly Sh12 trillion, the government side insists that the debt level is below Sh9 trillion.
Why is the National Treasury (NT) unable to compute the real public debt and remove all credible doubts that the figure that it is dangling in public is untrue?
The recent Budget Policy Statement battle in which National Assembly Majority Leader Dr Amos Kimunya fought to overturn the budget committee’s Sh400 bn capping to Sh846 bn is real indicator that the NT appetite for borrowing and living large on debt is far from over.
Less than 3 years ago, MPs betrayed public interest to increase the public debt from Sh6 trn to Sh9 trn. There is a likelihood that MPs will increase this crucial ceiling to Sh13 trn before the 12th parliament is dissolved in early June.
If such atrocity ever happened, parliament which long lost its’ independence and oversight moral authority and competence, would have severely betrayed this country.
Kenyans must refuse their country to borrow recklessly in order to sustain massive high-level corruption.
As a matter of fact, Kenyans must not demand for a Commission of Public Inquiry to ascertain the debt and track the expenditure.
The past and current holders of the independent offices of the Auditor General and that of the Controller of Budget must be put on the spot to explain the mischief around Kenya’s public debt – and why the appetite to sink deeper into debt does not worry government.
Granted, borrowing is not a sin. But it must never be an excuse to be used as a conduit for public thievery and compromising public interest.
Today, the cost of living is unsustainable. The ordinary Kenyan, in tens of millions, are silently hurting. The stress levels are high, which in part explains the escalating cases mental illness and suicides.
Today, and needless to mention, the cost of food, farm inputs, education, health, transport and even credit is extremely high.
Kenyans are getting less and less money into their pockets as the prices of fast moving consumer goods either doubles or triples.
Manufacturers are increasingly packing less and less at more exorbitant pricing. In short, the money Kenyans are carrying is getting worthless even as opportunities to raise them dwindles.
Meanwhile the Russia invasion of Ukraine ripple effects are already being felt in Kenya in terms of high fuel prices and attendant adverse effect on other inflationary factors.
The supplementary budget allocation of Sh25 bn to be applied to the not-so-transparent Petroleum Development Levy does not make matters any easier.
On the other hand, President Uhuru Kenyatta has chosen to focus on his own succession. Curiously, he has invited the entire opposition into his government– hence the neutralized role of parliament.
With an impotent parliament, often suffering quorum hitches even with 349 MPs – soon to occasion huge pay for send-off perks, Kenyans are literally on their own.
It is for this reason that the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) wants to rally Kenyans from all walks of lives to petition Parliament to set up a Commission of Inquiry into Kenya’s public debt and further stop any such reckless borrowing by maintaining the debt ceiling at Sh9 trn.