Mudavadi says country is broke, fears for hard times
Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi has warned Kenyans to brace for tough economic times ahead, stating that the country is broke and “painful” decisions will have to be made in the near future.
The 2022 presidential candidate said all efforts should be channeled towards getting the country out of the debt hole, arguing that the economy was in dire distress.
Tracing the genesis of the current economic slump, the former vice-president and finance minister said Parliament failed to perform its oversight role by dancing to the tunes of the Executive therefore exposing Kenyans to unsustainable debts.
“Parliament has been doing nothing about handling public debts, about handling the risks involved in the borrowing; they have just been simply adjusting the ceiling to suit the Executive,” he said.
The former Finance Minister observed that MPs have, unfortunately, abdicated their oversight role.
“The Treasury proposes, they agree! The Treasury over borrows, they agree,” he said in an interview with Citizen TV on Tuesday night. He said Treasury must be held accountable for the financial mess the country finds itself in.
Negotiate with lenders
Mudavadi said if elected president, he would negotiate afresh with both local and external lenders saying the loans have to be rescheduled to allow the economy to get back on the recovery path.
He, however, pledged to ensure that ongoing projects are completed noting that some have already stagnated because of lack of funds.
“Moving forward, we will have to sit down as a nation and involve all stakeholders,” he said.
“We have to prioritise and learn to live according to our means. That is the only way we will get out of the dangerous situation we are in,” he explained.
Mudavadi said that he has already shared his concerns with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mudavadi likened the situation the country is in at the moment to the 1990s when he was appointed Finance Minister by the late President Moi in the midst of the multibillion Goldenberg scandal which occasioned serious economic challenges.
“It is a very difficult time, I have been through it myself in the context of 1993 when I took over at the Treasury and literally there was no money, he said, adding: “So, obviously you’ll have to focus, engage the local business community (investors) and the international community.”
“I am here to tell Kenyans not to be cheated. There is going to be a lot of pain. We are going through a lot of taxation because the government is in financial stress, that is why the easy target is the petroleum to try and get cash to deal with the problem,” he stated.
Dire economic state
He said that Kenyans should be told the truth about the dire state of the economy noting that just like pregnancy; you cannot hide it for long.
“As a Kenyan, I have to say the truth; there is hope, no doubt about it but it is going to be a journey that has some pain along the way,” he stated.
“First of all, we must tell Kenyans the reality; are we broke or not broke?” he posed. “It is not about economic models, we’re not in an economic class… the country is broke; we’re over borrowing and that is why taxes are rising,” he explained.
He said if elected, he will prioritize economic recovery plans saying the public debts have to be rescheduled because according to him, they are not unsustainable. “This is not child’s play, painful decisions have to be made,” he said.
On the One Kenya Alliance (OKA), a coalition between him, Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and Senator Moses Wetangula (Ford Kenya); Mudavadi said that talks were going on smoothly adding that a committee of experts were currently working on a coalition agreement behind the scenes.
“It is a conversation that is ongoing, we have a team of technical people working on a well-crafted process that will enable us to finally append our signatures to a coalition document,” he said, adding that they were still within the IEBC timelines.