Serrari Group

Following widespread protests and significant political developments, Kenyan President William Ruto recently engaged in discussions with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Sources familiar with the matter revealed that the conversation occurred shortly after President Ruto decided to withdraw a proposed $2.7 billion tax increase, a decision aimed at calming civil unrest that tragically resulted in at least 39 deaths.

The tax hikes, originally part of a crucial finance bill, were pivotal to Kenya’s economic reform agenda under a $3.6 billion IMF loan program. With their withdrawal, analysts now predict potential setbacks for Kenya in meeting critical program targets, impacting future financial aid disbursements.

Youthful protesters, primarily responsible for recent demonstrations, have vehemently criticized the IMF’s advocacy for these tax adjustments, perceiving them as exacerbating economic hardships. Responding to mounting pressure, President Ruto’s administration opted to suspend the controversial bill, sparking ongoing debates on fiscal policy and economic strategy.

While specific details of Ruto and Georgieva’s conversation remain confidential, diplomatic sources emphasize consensus among major donors for IMF flexibility in revisiting program targets. This adjustment aims to support Kenya in managing fiscal shortfalls resulting from the tax bill’s withdrawal.

An IMF spokesperson reiterated the organization’s commitment to collaborating with Kenyan authorities amidst evolving economic challenges. Earlier, the IMF had reached a preliminary agreement with Kenya on a comprehensive policy framework, pending final approval from the IMF Executive Board.

Looking ahead, President Ruto has indicated plans to introduce austerity measures through supplementary budget amendments, recognizing the inevitable need for increased borrowing in the upcoming fiscal year.

The situation continues to unfold amid sustained anti-government protests, albeit with reduced turnout, underscoring ongoing societal concerns and calls for equitable economic reforms.

Photo source: Google

By: Montel Kamau

Serrari Financial Analyst

5th July, 2024

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