Kenyans have been told to tighten their belts again even as they continue reeling from the high cost of living from increased taxation.
Trade Minister Moses Kuria and President William Ruto’s chief economic adviser David Ndii are once again on the spot over their remarks on the new fuel prices announced last week.
In its monthly price revision, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) raised the new retail cost of a litre of petrol to Ksh211, an increase of Ksh16, which is a record high.
The Matatu Owners Association, a lobby group for public transport operators, has announced a 20% increase of fares across the country following EPRA’s announcement.
In the past few months, Kenyans have had to endure high cost of living after the government introduced new taxes.
Kuria has had no kind words for Kenyans, warning that fuel prices will keep increasing until February 2024.
He says Kenyans should stop complaining. “When you keep on complaining that the prices of fuel have gone up, why don’t you just drill your own oil well,” he told a gathering in the Western region last weekend.
George Maina, a boda boda (motorcycle) rider in Kasarani, northeast of Nairobi, tells The Africa Report that he is disappointed by Kuria’s remarks.
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“How can a leader speak that way? Where’s the empathy this government promised the poor?” he says, adding that he is forced to increase fares by Ksh20 after the new fuel prices.
Others have taken to social media platforms to condemn remarks made by Ruto’s confidants.
“Moses Kuria is a reckless and insensitive human being,” Mutua Loyd said on X, while Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale urged President Ruto to sack the minister saying: “Watu wenye umepatia kazi wamekuingiza kona mbaya sana [Those you have given jobs have pushed you into a bad corner].”
“President Ruto, sack these people otherwise they are giving your government a bad image,” said the senator.
Ndii, Ruto’s economic adviser, has also made remarks that caused public outrage. “I don’t believe politicians, and I don’t trust the government. If you do either, you are a sucker,” he said on his X account.
Yet according to Energy Minister Davis Chirchir, the skyrocketing cost of fuel is caused by an increase in the international landing costs of the commodity, and higher price of crude oil at international markets.
“The pain is heavy, but there is nothing we can do,” he said.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua tried to rein in government officials, urging them to exercise caution during these tough economic times.
“Responsible leaders should be sensitive and inspire hope in the people,” he said.
However, political analyst Edwin Kegoli says Kuria and Ndii are speaking the truth about the economic situation in the country.
“[The] government should tell Kenyans that things are hard and the promises they made are difficult to implement,” he tells The Africa Report.
During the presidential campaign last year, Ruto toured the country with a promise of ensuring lower fuel prices. Instead, he removed fuel subsidies leading to a sharp rise.
“Ruto’s promises [were] hot air — he is failing us,” Martha Atieno, an unemployed youth, tells The Africa Report.
She says the increase of fuel and remarks from government officials shows the government does not care about ordinary Kenyans.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has slammed Ruto for making life unbearable for Kenyans, describing the president’s economic policies as a grand disaster.
“Ruto talks too much, with little action,” Raila said. “As we embark on the second year of Kenya Kwanza’s governance, it appears we are spiralling recklessly downwards.”
Source: The Africa Report