Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto unveiled his long-awaited manifesto Thursday night, in which he pledged to reduce the cost of living in his first 100 days in office if he wins the August 9 presidential election.
< p>Dr. Ruto, who faces stiff competition from opposition leader Raila Odinga in the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, said he will prioritize investment in agriculture to boost local food production and steer the country away from expensive food imports.
He pledged his support for the establishment of agricultural processing industries for agricultural inputs such as animal feed and fertilizer, citing the current food shortage as a result of the government’s decision to end subsidies and the failure to implement food security policies as part of the president’s Big Four agenda,
“The challenge of the high cost of living can be met by investing in agriculture, period. Statements about Ukraine, I don’t know what, are tall tales,” he said.
The campaigns for the elections, which are a little over a month away, are taking place against the backdrop of economic difficulties that are being attributed global supply chain disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine, and rising national debt.
Contrary to his remarks, Dr. Ruto’s manifesto does in fact point to the war in Ukraine as one of the contributing factors to the economic turmoil. The economy shrank by three percent in 2020 due to lockdowns to contain Covid infections, but has shown signs of recovery over the past two years.
< However, in recent months the prices of food and other essential items such as cooking oil and petroleum products have risen sharply, with a two-kilo pack of cornmeal, a staple of Kenya, surpassing the Ksh200 mark for the first time in the country's history has.
Dr. Ruto and Mr. Odinga, the two leading presidential candidates, have both sought to put the economy at the heart of this year’s election campaign, promising to make life for Kenyans much more bearable than has been the case to date under the current government.’ /p>
Mr Odinga, who is running for the fifth time and enjoys the support of President Kenyatta, released his manifesto three weeks ago in which he promised, among other things, to revive manufacturing and improve social protection for needy households.
The two candidates ap ready to share many views on the economy, with priority for example on agriculture, manufacturing and small and medium-sized enterprises among the economic sectors to be identified in their programmes.
But on Thursday, Dr. Ruto keen to demonstrate that he is the man with the plan, rolling out statistics on the six sectors he intends to focus investments on, including housing, ICT and services, to back up his ambitious promises.’ /p>
He proposed reallocating budget funds to support what he called high-impact areas for job creation, in line with his bottom-up campaign slogan, which promises to help people at the bottom of the economic pyramid like grocers, handcart pushers and motorcyclists.