Kenyan president seeks tax reform to reduce inequality

Kenyan President William Ruto announced Thursday his intention to reform the tax system to make it more “equitable” by making the richest pay more, in his first speech to Parliament.
Ruto, 55, who was elected in August in a close election as the voice of the “resourceful”, said he was “determined to ensure” that Kenya’s tax system “responds to the needs of the economy” and to make it more progressive.
The new tax system “must be fair, efficient” and “the tax burden must reflect the ability to pay” of each taxpayer, said the head of state, a former chicken seller who started from nothing and is now the head of one of the country’s largest fortunes.
“We are taxing business too much and wealth too little,” said Mr. Ruto. The new head of state also promised to tackle the debt, which has increased sixfold since 2013 to about $70 billion.
“Our financial situation is not very good,” assured Ruto, who served for nine years as vice president to his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenya, an East African country of about 50 million people, is the region’s economic powerhouse, but a third of its population lives below the poverty line.