EDITORIAL: Austerity measures must be enforced without fail

William Ruto.
Deputy President William Ruto. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Coming just after ordinary citizens are still reeling from the introduction of painful taxes and austerity measures, publication of a notice by Deputy President William Ruto’s office inviting bids for the supply of helicopters and airplanes for his use is, to say the least, grossly insensitive.

Mr Ruto’s office is procuring a helicopter with special features and is backing it up with a fixed-wing aircraft.

While we would not begrudge the DP for seeking to travel – the timing of this move could never be right.

Unless the government is so insensitive as not to notice that Kenyans are suffering in a largely unyielding economy, this quest to apply public funds on the missions of extravagance cannot be left to go unchallenged.

Indeed, if critics of the procurement allege that it is all meant to support Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential ambition, it would not be far off the mark.


And if that is the case, it would amount to early misuse of taxpayer funds in order to tilt the landscape against other candidates.

Mr Ruto has in recent months been all over the country in a mission he claims is purely developmental. It a wonder whether he believes anyone takes him for his word.

What is most critical for the majority of Kenyans at this point, however, is to see Mr Ruto embrace and live by the austerity that a government he is part of has imposed on Kenyans.

Away from Mr Ruto’s office, there are few signs that the rest of the government — counties included —is embracing austerity.

Long convoys escorting officials, including minor functionaries, are a permanent feature on our roads and President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to have abandoned the campaign he kicked off as Finance minister in the Kibaki Administration to rid the system of profligacy.

Unless he and his deputy lead from the front, the public and external donors will remain cynical of his so-called fiscal consolidation measures.

But more importantly, the economy will continue bleeding from unnecessary recurrent spending.