President Willam Ruto during the commissioning of Thiba dam in Kirinyaga county on October 15, 2022. Dr Ruto accused Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga and former President Uhuru Kenyatta of sabotaging the economy and blamed them for the rise in the cost of living/Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group
Kenya’s President William Ruto has announced to Kenyans that the Hustler Fund will be rolled out from December and appealed to citizens to start organising themselves early to easily access cheap loans.
During his campaigns, Dr Ruto promised a new economic order that would address unemployment and the lack of opportunities for youth, pledging to pump billions of shillings into support for sectors such as the boda boda and small retailers. The Sh50 billion annual kitty will be channelled towards supporting micro, small and medium enterprises.
“I want you to organise yourselves in groups, saccos and cooperatives so that you can easily access the Hustler Fund, once its implementation starts. My obligation will be to source for these funds and it is up to you to play your part. I have set up a special ministry that will be rolling out this programme,” Dr Ruto said yesterday while commissioning the KSh20 billion Mwea Thiba dam at Rukenya village in Gichugu constituency in Kirinyaga.
President Ruto faults Raila, Uhuru on rising cost of living
Ruto also accused Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga and former President Uhuru Kenyatta of sabotaging the economy and blamed them for the rise in the cost of living.
The President, who seemed to be back to his pre-August campaigning style, said the opposition should not lecture his administration on matters pertaining to food security and the high cost of living.
Dr Ruto accused Mr Odinga of misleading the former administration to inject what he claimed was Sh8 billion per month towards subsidising maize flour prices instead of assisting farmers to boost food production.
Dr Ruto said he is keen on subsidising the cost of production at the farm level to enhance food productivity countrywide.
He said his government plans to spend Sh8 billion to subsidise six million bags of fertiliser, which will be available to farmers at a lower cost and, hence, lower the cost of food prices due to mass production.
“I want to tell my friends that we know how to plan things and we are not like you who spent Sh8 billion in a month to subsidise maize flour prices yet that product did not get to Kenyans at a price of KSh100 per 2kg. We will spend Sh8 billion to subsidise six million bags of fertiliser to help our farmers produce more food to lower the high cost of food prices,” Dr Ruto said.
“Our competitors must know that we have a different approach because they were subsidising consumption but we are going to invest in production. We are going to teach agricultural economics and they will understand,” he added.
Dr Ruto accused former President Kenyatta’s administration of being responsible for the skyrocketing prices of maize flour.
“They pushed us for five years until the price of unga rose from KSh100 to KSh230. They sold fertiliser to farmers at a cost of KSh7,000 and expected the same farmer to produce more food. We are beginning the process of coming up with a permanent long-term solution to food production in Kenya,” Dr Ruto said.
Last week, Mr Odinga accused the President of turning a blind eye to the cost of living despite promising to lower it.
“Ruto promised to lower the cost of unga to KSh70 but he has not. He is just dodging the issue,” added Mr Odinga.
The President issued a directive that only stalled and continuing road projects would be completed countrywide before the government initiates new ones.
He said his administration will source adequate resources to pay contractors so that all roads are completed, adding that non-payment has resulted in many stalled projects.
“I know that there are many stalled road projects not only here in Kirinyaga but also in many other parts of the country. This has been attributed to failure by the government to pay contractors awarded tenders to construct the roads,” Dr Ruto said.
“Give us about one or two months to come up with that plan of sourcing for funds to pay our contractors to spearhead construction of road projects countrywide,” he continued.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua joined his boss in attacking the former prime minister, accusing him of failing to provide oversight to the Jubilee government and colluding with it to plunge the country into an economic crisis.
He said the Jubilee administration partnered with Mr Raila to allocate billions of public funds towards the Azimio campaigns and popularising Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
“You (Raila) abandoned your duty to oversight the Jubilee government and now you are complaining of high prices of food. You allowed thieves to steal public funds that is why we are here today as a country,” Mr Gachagua said.
Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki also told Azimio leaders to give the Kenya Kwanza government time to transform the economy.
“If you are given a house that is crumbling, there is a need to demolish it and build a stronger foundation so that it stands firmly,” Mr Njuki said.
The Mwea Thiba dam is meant to boost rice production. The opening of the dam comes as a relief to the farmers who have been experiencing a shortage of water due to prolonged dry spells.