‘We will not reinstate subsidies because they benefit cartels’ – Ruto
President William Ruto on Friday maintained that the government will not backtrack on its decision to scrap subsidies on essential commodities even as the opposition threatens mass action to protest against the high cost of living in the country.
Speaking at Dongo Kundu in Mombasa, President Ruto said the Kenya Kwanza administration will not subsidise consumables and will instead focus on production which will lead to stabilisation in prices.
He defended the decision to remove subsidies on fuel, electricity and maize flour (unga) put in place by his predecessor President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying the move had helped stabilise the country's economy.
The Head of State claimed that the subsidies only benefitted those in influential positions and cartels.
"My last assignment in the last five months was to remove subsidies. That's why today the economy of Kenya has stabilised," President Ruto said during the ground-breaking ceremony of the Taifa Gas Plant at the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
"I want to assure all our citizens that we will not go back to reckless borrowing and subsidies that benefit brokers, cartels and people who are politically correct. We will not go back there. We are going to instead promote production," he added.
Ruto said interventions taken by the government such as the supply of subsidised fertiliser to farmers across the country, will help bring down the cost of living.
"Four and a half million farmers are today accessing fertiliser that we have subsidised as government so that we can support our production and eliminate the challenges of high cost of living," President avered.
Ruto alleged that Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga was part of the problem, saying the opposition chief's political truce with Uhuru largely contributed to the high cost of living in Kenya.
"There is no need for others to threaten others with demonstrations. You had five years of the handshake shenanigans and that is the cost of living is where it's today. I have stabilised the economy and I am now dealing with the cost of living and we are not dealing with it on a short-term basis but in a sustainable manner," Ruto said.
"The fellows on the other side are not going to give us any lectures or any lessons because they have none to give. If they had any ideas they had five years to implement and they did not."
Raila on Wednesday gave Ruto 14 days to lower prices of basic commodities in the country failure to which he will lead Kenyans in nationwide demonstrations to force the government to act.
The former premier said Ruto's move to withdraw subsidies in the middle of drought and famine was reckless and heartless and demanded reinstatement.
Speaking during the opposition's prayer rally at Jevanjee Gardens in Nairobi, Raila said the removal subsidies and high taxes imposed by the Kenya Kwanza administration have seen prices of basic commodities hit the roof.
"If these demands are not heeded within fourteen days, we shall lead Kenyans to massive mass action across the country to take their power back and restore sanity," he warned.