OCI stands in solidarity with the people of Kenya taking to the streets this week to protest a regressive finance bill recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The bill would increase the cost of living on already overburdened citizens, making basic necessities like bread, cooking oil, sanitary towels, and diapers unaffordable. Further, the Finance Bill, 2024 proposed additional tax on financial and forex transactions, an eco levy tax on imports and digital products, motor vehicle tax, and tax on healthcare. These additional taxes will be all at the expense of ordinary Kenyans particularly women and youth , to pay off rich country lenders. 

In response to widespread outcry from Kenyan citizens, President Ruto has declined to assent to the bill for the time being. However, the government had already called in police to violently suppress the peaceful protests, killing at least 53 people and injuring many more. 

The right to hold a peaceful protest and the protection of human rights is enshrined in the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. We extend our deepest condolences to the families and communities who lost their loved ones, and solidarity with Kenyan citizens opposing this unjust Finance bill. 

This is another example of why a transformation of our global financial architecture is critical to address the interlinked debt, inequality, and climate crises, and free Global South countries from IMF-imposed cycles of illegitimate debts and austerity. Despite the massive protests, IMF stated that it will not back down on the economic and fiscal conditions it has imposed on Kenya.

While huge sums of money are needed in the Global South to alleviate economic exclusion  and become low-carbon and climate-resilient, African governments including Kenya are spending more to service their debts than on critical public services like education and healthcare – while these debt payments profit rich economies. 

Wealthy country lenders must pursue unconditional public external debt cancellation including interest, commissions, and other charges, for all countries that need it. They should also pursue binding responsible lending rules.

Kenya’s debt needs to be audited and any unjust debts and interests should be canceled. This would grant the country economic sovereignty, alleviate the heavy debt repayment burden on Kenyans, and give them a chance at a decent and equitable life. Rather than imposing steep austerity measures, the IMF should prioritize social and economic justice that promotes the well-being of the people. 

One Comment

  • Africa needs to grow their own economy through available resources instead of relying on Developed countries.

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