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Challenging First Year for Kenya’s President William Ruto


Kenya’s President William Ruto was inaugurated exactly one year ago on Wednesday as the country’s fifth president, and analysts have described it as a challenging one.

He came to power promising to revive the listless economy and put more money in the pockets of small traders, informal workers, and others living hand to mouth.

Instead, he imposed new taxes, and the cost of everything from petrol, to electricity and food has increased, leaving many who voted for him disenchanted.

“We have not seen any changes in the economy. In fact things are getting worse and worse,” said unemployed financier, Robert Kiberenge.

“There’s a lot of talking, but very little action. These people promised heaven and earth, but we are not seeing what they promised, they are not delivering.”

Ruto inherited an economy burdened by debt, inflation, and a weakening currency.

His government’s tax hikes and cuts to fuel and food subsidies were broadly welcomed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which extended loans in response.

But things have not gone quite as planned.

“If I was reflecting on Ruto’s one year in office, I would rate it as an extremely challenging period because of two things,” said Ken Gichinga, chief economist at analysis firm Mentoria Economics.

“Number one, the global environment is not easy. But number two, the policies put in place have not been effective, some of them have even had to be rescinded.”

The government said the steps it has taken over the past year were necessary to clean up the mess left by the previous administration.

But they have exacerbated the hardships faced by Kenyans.

“I’m very concerned about the direction we are going. If we maintain an environment where the cost of goods is expensive, unemployment is high, taxes are weighing down people, it’s very difficult to create an environment of prosperity under those circumstances,” said Gichinga.

As people struggle with the skyrocketing price of food and other basic commodities, Ruto has cultivated an image on the world stage as a champion of the environment and a crusader for the reform of global lending institutions.

Source: Africa News

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