Senate summons CS Rotich over state of economy

Senate summons CS Rotich over state of economy

The Senate has summoned Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to appear before it within seven days from Tuesday after he failed to appear before its Budget and Finance Committee to respond to queries on the state of the economy.

Committee chairman Billow Kerrow said this is the third time that the CS has failed to appear before the Senate committee.

According to Kerrow, Rotich was to appear but instead chose to send a last minute message saying that he had been called to State House by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kerrow said the committee wanted the CS to explain why the government’s debt is almost Ksh 2.8 trillion.

Two days ago, Rotich reiterated that the country’s economy is robust and in good shape despite the opposition’s statements that it was almost collapsing.

Speaking in Eldoret Town, Rotich said the government is working hard to address the few cash flow problems experienced so far.

His statement came at a time when serious concerns have been raised about the state of the economy with CORD Leader Raila Odinga accusing the government of lying to Kenyans about the state of the economy.

On Sunday, President Uhuru Kenyatta assured Kenyans that the economy is strong and there is no cause for alarm.

Contrary to claims by critics, the Head of State said “Kenya is okay” and told critics that the freedom of speech is a constitutional right.

He encouraged Kenyans to work together, saying that unity of purpose will move the country to the next level of development.

This came days after National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale dismissed Odinga’s allegations that the government diverted funds from the Eurobond to personal accounts.

Duale asserted that Odinga’s claims that the money is stashed in foreign accounts and is being used to trade in foreign stocks for private gains are misguided and unfortunate.

Duale said the fundamental objective of going for the Eurobond was to prevent the government from competing with the private sector in domestic borrowing, adding that they have looked elsewhere to source for more than Ksh 283 billion.

He said that USD 600 million was used to offset the loan that the retired President Mwai Kibaki’s administration borrowed from local banks, with a further Ksh 53 billion going towards settling other loans.

He added that the remaining amount was not stashed in foreign accounts, as alleged by Odinga, but put in the Central Bank of Kenya.

At the start of 2015, Kenya’s economic forecasts were literally gleaming.

It was said to be the 3rd fastest growing country in the world, just after China and the Philippines.

The World Bank forecast it as among the fastest growing economies in Sub Saharan Africa.

Investments in energy and infrastructure were beginning to pay off and the Kenyan government projected its growth at 6.5 – 7%, the World Bank expected it 6% growth rate while the International Monetary Fund was even more optimistic at between 6.9 – 7.2%.

But in recent months, the rain seems to have started hitting hard for Kenya, which is the 6th largest economy in sub Saharan Africa.

The shilling has lost its value, the government’s cash flow is tight, and debt levels are getting higher.

These challenges were compound further when the auditor general reported that about 450 billion shillings in the budget is unaccounted for.

Economists however argue that politics has taken over what should otherwise be a factual debate.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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