Kenya: Don’t Shy Away From Using Debt, Kenyatta Urges Next Administration

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the next administration from using debt even as emphasized its importance as a key accelerator of economic development.

Kenyatta, while delivering his last national event speech during the Madaraka Day fete, defended the Jubilee administration’s decision to borrow more noting that it helped to “close our infrastructure gap and to connect our markets.”

“Our borrowing has surely been worthwhile and paid tangible dividends,” Kenyatta defended the SGR project which he said moves three times more cargo daily from Mombasa to neighboring countries and transports 10 times more passengers with SGR at half the price and half the time.

In order to maintain the same tempo, Kenyatta said “the Fifth administration should not shy away from using ‘other people’s

money. Debt, in a cleaned-up government, is an enabler, not a burden.”

“On the part of My Administration, we used ‘other people’s money’ to close our infrastructure gap and to connect our markets. If it took a maize trader 3 days to travel from Kitale to the border of South Sudan, what we borrowed ensures that it takes him now just 5 hours,” he explained.

His remarks come even as the National Treasury has proposed an increase in debt ceiling from the current Sh9 trillion to Sh10 trillion in order to enable the Government to borrow more to finance the Sh3.33 trillion budget for the 2022/23 financial year.

As of December 2021, Kenya’s stock of public and publicly guaranteed debt stood at Ksh8.02 trillion(USD 70.97 billion).

A huge chunk has gone to infrastructure projects, key of them being the Standard Gauge Railway whose contracts, agreements and studies related to the construction and operations of the SGR are not yet open to the public.

The 578.8km SGR project from Mombasa to Naivasha was built at a cost of Ksh 477 billion, it is the single largest project ever taken in the country.

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