Kenya — NASA leader Raila Odinga has endorsed the downgrading of the fuel taxation from 16 percent to 8 percent by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Odinga says the country could not afford to zero rate petroleum products due to the competing financial demands.
The former prime minister says President Kenyatta was in a fix and could not yield to pressure from Kenyans to scrap the fuel taxation.
He additionally said the country has to repay debts and must strike a balance between repayments while at the same time running the government.
"Currently, development work is being financed by donor money. The revenue being collected in the country is paying government workers and restocking medicines in public hospitals. If fuel taxation is zero-rated then the workers' salary will be slashed and we will not have medicine in our hospitals," he said.
Addressing residents of Kondele in Kisumu after attending a roundtable investors meeting organized by Unaitas Sacco, Odinga said the government should implement the austerity measures to bridge the hole in the budget.
"There are a number of austerity measures announced by the president that includes slashing travelling allowances for state officers amongst others, that must be put into force," he says.
He told the residents that he came out to help President Kenyatta to ensure that Kenyans understand the situation the country is in and accept the 8 percent tax on petroleum products.
He says the wastage of public resources that has been witnessed in the recent years must be stopped to save Kenyans from the economic quagmire.
Raila says that developed countries had agreed to return looted money that are stashed in international accounts.
"Some countries have announced publicly that money stolen from the country and stashed in those countries will be returned," he says.
He said that in the next one year, the government would have been able to recover the stolen funds and benefit immensely from the austerity measures put in place to avert the pilferage of public funds.
He noted that politicians must now tell Kenyans the correct position and stop using the situation to score politically.