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President Ruto Responds to Unrest, Declines to Sign Tax Hike Bill

President Ruto Responds to Unrest, Declines to Sign Tax Hike Bill

President William Ruto of Kenya has taken a firm stance amid rising public unrest by refusing to sign a contentious finance bill aimed at increasing taxes across various sectors. His decision follows widespread protests in Nairobi, where demonstrators breached security at the parliament building after the bill’s passage.

Hundreds of protesters overwhelmed security forces on Tuesday, gaining access to both the National Assembly and the Senate. Inside, they vandalized parts of the parliamentary premises and set fires in a dramatic show of opposition to the government’s fiscal policies. Chants denouncing the tax hikes echoed through the chaos, reflecting deep-seated public frustrations.

Read more: Chaos Erupts in Kenya as Protesters Storm Parliament

Earlier in the day, citizens took to the streets to vehemently oppose the finance bill, which aims to raise an additional 346.7 billion shillings through increased taxes, including adjustments to the railway development levy and import declaration fees. Critics argue that these measures would worsen existing economic hardships without providing significant relief to the public.

Tragically, the protests turned deadly, with reports confirming at least four fatalities from gunfire and numerous others sustaining serious injuries in clashes. Nairobi County Police Commander Adamson Bungei provided grim details of casualties and extensive damage caused during the unrest.

In response, President Ruto acknowledged the public outcry and committed to engaging in dialogue with Kenya’s youth to explore alternative fiscal strategies. He stressed the importance of reducing government expenditures without further burdening taxpayers, indicating a readiness to reconsider contentious aspects of the finance bill.

The parliamentary approval of the bill underscores Kenya’s complex economic challenges, with a significant portion of annual income allocated solely to debt servicing. The aftermath of these protests underscores widespread public discontent and highlights the delicate balance between fiscal responsibility and public welfare in Kenya’s economic policies.