Following the approval of the KSh255 billion loan to Kenya by the IMF Board on Friday, April 2, a large section of Kenyans expressed their outrage online – registering over 130,000 signatures in less than 24 hours for a petition urging the IMF to reverse the approval of the multi-billion shilling loan.
The first batch of Sh34.5 billion is expected this week, to support the next phase of Covid-19 response.
The IMF loaned the country to offer support due to the effects of the pandemic.” The loan is intended to, “support the next phase of the authorities’ Covid-19 response and address the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities.”
“This (petition) is in recognition of the fact that previous loans to the Kenya government have not been prudently utilised and have often resulted in mega corruption scandals. The scandals have not deterred the ruling regime from more appetite for more loans, especially from China,” expressed Jefferson Murrey the organiser of the petition.
“Right now, Kenyans are choking under the heavy burden of taxation, with the cost of basic commodities such as fuel skyrocketing, and nothing to show for the previous loans,” the petition highlighted.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Kenya has borrowed more than Sh1 trillion. As of June 2020, Kenya’s public debt stood at Ksh7.06 trillion, 65% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the 2021 budget policy statement.
Kenya’s total public debt reached Sh7.25 trillion at the end of November 2020. The country’s projected debt is expected to hit Ksh9 trillion by 2023.
Netizens questioned the need for more loans that would broaden the public debt Kenya already faces. They reverently expressed their disregard for the loan acquisition on IMF’s social media pages with over 20,000 tweets, comments and posts.
At the close of April, the Ministry of Health had spent Ksh1.3 billion even though the approved budget was Ksh976.8 million. In similar regard, a report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu revealed how Ksh2.3 billion was lost in procuring Covid-19 medical supplies.
CS Treasury Ukur Yatani came to the defence of the alleged excessive borrowing stating that the new loan facility expected from IMF is part of his fiscal strategy to abandon commercial loans.
“Equitable and affordable access to the vaccine is critical, and help from the international community is urgently required,” the CS reaffirmed.
Yatani said the additional support will help provide liquidity to small businesses “to forestall a greater humanitarian crisis.”
However, leaders expressed different sentiments. Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika stated that the government’s move to increase the national debt at a time the taxpayers are already overburdened with a huge debt crisis was an erroneous move.
“We, therefore, propose that part of the IMF funds procured by the government of Kenya on account of the pandemic be directed towards supporting businesses from the bottom of the pyramid,” said the Nakuru senator.
Sample tweets from Kenyans below.
Covid-19 Billionaires still hunt for more money to loot as poor Kenyans die because there is no medical equipments in our hospitals. #StopGivingKenyaLoans
— Mandera Top Blogger™ 🇰🇪 (@ManderaBlogger) April 6, 2021
Executive order by Kenya citizens about foreign loans … Executive warning from 50M Kenyans. The taxpayers executive order to foreign lenders .#ImpactOFTheLoans #ThiefOfTheLoans #signthepetition #IMFStopLoaningKenya #Samidoh pic.twitter.com/2i5STMbB2k
— Teddy Kimani (@Teddykimany) April 6, 2021
Dear International Monetary Fund,
— Helton Munee (@helton_munee) April 6, 2021
— Déported Palmer🇰🇪 🍥 (@Kenyan_Deportee) April 6, 2021