Kwame Owino caught the attention of Kenyans on Wednesday, July 7 as he took on Housing PS Charles Hinga and Trade and Investments Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria in a Citizen TV debate on the proposed Housing Levy and Finance Bill.
Owino poked holes into the State’s defence of the bill that has elicited widespread discontent and frustration over the proposed increases of several taxes and levies, with the 3% housing levy a thorny issue in particular.
“The jobs you are promising will not come. There are 14 million households in Kenya, if 14 million households have not created jobs, why do these guys think that creating 250,000 in one year will create those jobs? You are lying to us,” he told Hinga, questioning the logic behind the proposed Housing Levy and poking holes in what he described as the Kenya Kwanza administration’s “obsession with funds”.
Owino, recognized as one of Kenya’s top economists, has been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), one of the region’s most recognizable think-tanks, since 2010. Owino also regularly writes columns on hot button socio-economic issues in Kenya for Nation.
Owino is the holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Nairobi (UoN), as well as a Master’s degree in Economic Policy Management at Columbia University in the United States.
Prior to appointment as CEO of IEA, Owino worked as the research officer for the Institute’s economic regulation programme, wrote policy briefs and participated in policy dialogue in competition policy, employment economics and regulation policy.
“We seek to promote pluralism of ideas through open, active and informed debate on public policy issues. We undertake research and conduct public education on key economic and topical issues in public affairs in Kenya and the region, and utilize the outcomes of the research for policy dialogue and to influence policy making,” IEA states on its website.
IEA was co-founded by David Ndii, President William Ruto’s top economic advisor, to influence public policy in 1994 when Ndii was just 26 years old. The institute was Kenya’s first independent policy think tank.