NAIROBI, 17 March 2021 – The Kenyan government spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna, is under fire for telling Kenyans to “stop crying” over having to pay higher taxes.
“Let us not cry all the time. We should ask ourselves what we’re doing to help the government,” Oguna told reporters during a briefing Tuesday.
Social media commentators jumped on the comments, slamming Oguna for not only making light of the outrage over the rising fuel costs and increased taxation, but rubbing salt into the fresh wound of Kenyans.
Kenyans on social media are calling on Oguna and the government to apologize for being insensitive at a time when Kenyans face major hardships.
Oguna told reporters that Kenyans are crying “when we shouldn’t be crying actually. We should be standing firm and saying this is our government and we will support it,” during the briefing, Tuesday.
Oguna suggested that Kenyans pay peanuts in taxes compared to Europeans.
“I can tell you this, the amount of taxes people pay in Europe is nothing compared to what you’re paying here, you shouldn’t be crying,” he said.
“That’s all I’m asking each one of us. Let’s stand firm and support our government… let’s not cry all the time, sawa sawa?” Oguna continued.
The comments from Oguna came days after Kenya’s energy regulator EPRA raised fuel prices to a nine-year high at a time when Kenyans are decrying the high cost of living and vanishing employment opportunities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenya’s energy regulator has defended the higher prices of petroleum products at the pump, claiming that factors like importation fees and other supply chain costs make hikes inevitable.
The hike, the EPRA argued, “mirrors the prevailing prices of petroleum products in the international markets”.
Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper contradicted the claim, pointing to significantly lower prices at the pump for citizens in neighboring Uganda and Tanzania.