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Kenya to Overhaul Budget After Finance Bill Withdrawal Amid Protests


NAIROBI, Xinhua: The Kenyan government is reorganizing the budget following the withdrawal of the Finance Bill 2024, which sparked protests across the country in the past three weeks, President William Ruto said Thursday.

Ruto, who chaired a Cabinet meeting in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, said the National Treasury will substantially cut the budget to “balance between what to be implemented and what can wait,” ensuring that key national programs are not affected.

“Our plan is good and solid, and in the fullness of time, we shall be vindicated,” he said in a statement issued after the meeting.

The president said that the government must now focus on charting a new future for the country, necessitating significant changes to align with that future. On June 13, Kenya presented its about 30 billion U.S. dollars budget for the financial year 2024/2025, which focused on sustaining economic growth expected to reach 5.5 percent in 2024, according to the National Treasury.

The withdrawn Finance Bill 2024, which sparked youth protests, sought to raise an additional 2.67 billion dollars through new taxes.

The protests began as largely peaceful demonstrations in cities and towns across Kenya and online after the Finance Bill 2024 was introduced in parliament on June 18. After several days of rallies, the demonstrations turned violent across the country, with protesters attempting to storm the parliament building. Businesses in several cities were looted and vandalized.

Protesters expressed outrage over provisions of the bill that would raise taxes on essential goods and services, such as bread and mobile money transfers, to meet the government’s revenue targets.

According to the state-funded Kenya National Human Rights Commission, more than 40 people have been killed in the protests, several others injured, and property of unknown value destroyed.

During the meeting, the Cabinet was briefed on the security situation in the country following days of riots. The meeting was informed that although the riots began as a protest against the tax measures proposed in the Finance Bill 2024, they were infiltrated, hijacked and taken over by criminal and opportunistic political forces.

These groups caused terror in cities, towns, and other urban areas, leading to loss of life and destruction of national and county government buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, homes and businesses.

The Cabinet was also informed that all national security agencies, including the military, were deployed to prevent a breakdown of law and order due to the threat posed to Parliament, the Supreme Court, and other infrastructure.

It was also noted that security agencies have stabilized the situation and are continuing to monitor developments.