Ruto allies want plebiscite cash diverted to Covid-19

By Hillary Mageka
Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa (second left) argues with a senior police officer after addressing a press conference in Nairobi yesterday while accompanied by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika (left) and Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie (second right). Photo/PD/BERNARD MALONZA
In summary
    • MPs proposed that the funds be used to set up a Lifeline Fund to offer stipends of Sh3,500  per month.
    • MPs want government to put in place an incentive tax relief for banks and other financial institutions.

Allies of Deputy President William Ruto want the Sh14 billion set aside for the national referendum to be channeled towards the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

Led by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie and his  Kikuyu counterpart Kimani Ichung’wa, the lawmakers said the third wave of Covid-19 poses a serious danger to Kenyans and any available resources and energies should be channeled to containing the virus.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi yesterday, the MPs proposed that the funds be used to set up a Lifeline Fund to offer stipends of Sh3,500  per month to  four million  households in the five counties under lockdown. 

The counties are Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru.

Reallocate budget

To finance a mass testing and vaccination campaign, the DP’s loyalists also suggested to National Treasury to reallocate a minimum of Sh50 billion from the Ministry of Interior and Defence budget for “better use”.

 “The greatest security threat and war we now have to fight is against this pandemic. With the recent rise in the costs of fuel, electricity and the subsequent increased cost of living, coupled with our increasingly compounded public debt levels management, our situation is dire and calls for immediate and urgent action,” they said in a statement signed by 28 other MPs loyal to the DP.

To finance the interest waiver and business loans support to affected businesses, the lawmakers recommended that the government puts in place an incentive tax relief for banks and other financial institutions that will waive such interest to affected businesses in their 2020/2021 tax returns coupled with business loans support from the recently procured concessionary Sh255 billion IMF funding.

“We do this, once again appreciating the President’s statement that it will not be plausible to offer tax breaks to sections of the country as only five counties are affected.

 This way, at least the most vulnerable of our people will be able to access food rations for their families even without the tax breaks, and therefore rescuing their dignity as human beings able to feed their offspring,” they said. 

Criticised president

The legislators criticised the President for ignoring the plight of Kenyans when he announced recent containment measures, saying the five counties which were locked down are “most productive counties in terms of revenue generation to government exchequer”.

They noted that the stringent measures prescribed by healthcare experts will adversely affect the livelihoods of millions in the affected counties who are not just generators of government revenue but also directly support livelihoods of millions of families across the country.

“We are however afraid to inform our President that the measures taken are not only robbing from our people their means of livelihood but are threatening their human dignity as families now face starvation, fathers and mothers who only two weeks ago could fend for and provide,” the statement read.