Uhuru plays down worry over huge China debt


Uhuru plays down worry over huge China debt
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2018 summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation . PHOTO/ PSCU

In Summary

  • President Kenyatta, who was speaking in an interview with CNN journalist Richard Quest, defended the public debt saying the money has been used in infrastructure development which is a priority for the country.
  • The Head of State noted that Japan is the country's biggest lender to the country's port projects while France has lent the country for electricity projects.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has played down the growing concerns over the country’s huge debt to China, further saying he is not worried about the country’s borrowing appetite.

President Kenyatta, who was speaking in an interview with CNN journalist Richard Quest, defended the public debt saying the money has been used in infrastructure development which is a priority for the country.

“What would worry me is if the debt that we have incurred has gone to recurrent expenditure like salaries. But we have utilised that debt to close the infrastructure gap and anyone coming to Nairobi after 10 years will be able to know,” said Kenyatta.

The President said Kenya has a “healthy mix of debt” from the US, Japan, France and other international lenders, further questioning why people are mainly concerned about the country’s debt to China.

“The criticism is that China has another agenda. Are you are familiar with this?” posed Quest.

In response President Kenyatta said: “We are familiar with those arguments but our position is a very clear one… We have an infrastructure gap that we need to fill and we are going to work with our partners across the globe who are willing to partner and to work with us to help us achieve our social-economic agenda.”

The Head of State noted that Japan is the country’s biggest lender to the country’s port projects while France has lent the country for electricity projects.

“Mombasa port wouldn’t be without the support of Japan. When we talk about electricity and electricity generation we wouldn’t be where we are without the support of French Development Agency (AFD) of France. Why are we focusing ourselves on one lender,” posed Kenyatta.

“As far as I am concerned we have a very healthy mix of debt from the multi-lateral lenders who are the world bank and African Development Bank to bilateral lending from Japan, France and all who are working with us to help us achieve our agenda.”

He maintained that the accelerated borrowing is in line with the country’s development, social, economic agenda.

In the same interview, President Kenyatta said he will retire from office in 2022 and will not try to amend the Constitution to extend his tenure after his second and final term comes to end.

Kenyatta said he is not interested in a third term in office despite the political undertones calling on him to remain in office longer.

Also Read: I will retire in 2022, says President Kenyatta

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