The attention of the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) is brought to the Twitter hashtag #LowerFoodPrices that has been trending for days.
We agree that the national conversation must change from political and economic models and onto pushing down the cost of living towards the August 9 general elections and thereafter
The hashtag is an indictment to the Jubilee Administration for failing to deliver on its’ 2013 key promise of lowering the cost of living. Accordingly, the value of the Kenya shilling has depreciated even as prices of fast moving consumer goods have either doubled or tripled.
Today, the cost of food, healthcare, farm inputs, transport, electricity, fuel, credit and even doing business have all shot high. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI’s) are no longer a reality. Unemployment and a sense of national hopelessness has persisted and been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over 40 percent of our SMME’s are collapsing. The number of pages of newspapers carrying auction notices keep increasing over loan defaults and greedy bankers.
A country that is weighed down by a huge national debt with nearly 7 in every 10 Kenyans defaulting on Safaricom’s credit facility, Fuliza is bad news. Yet, we are headed into an uncertain and highly competitive presidential election that could go either way.
Unfortunately, none of the presidential candidates is seriously addressing the issue of high cost of living. They are, instead, paying lip service to a complex problem that can neither be cured by ‘bottom-up’ economic model nor the proposed Sh6,000 monthly stipend for poor households.
Accordingly, Cofek recommends as follows;
- Kenya government must aggressively seek for debt interest holiday and have all the short-term and commercial public debts restructured into long-term facilities
- A resolution by Parliament not to increase the public debt ceiling beyond the approved Sh9 trillion and fastrack the passage and assent of the National Debt Management Authority Bill sponsored by Nambale MP Mr Sakwa Bunyasi
- Scale down the national budget from the current Sh1.5 trn to Sh1trn
- Approve an urgent supplementary budget to be applied in zero-rating key foodstuffs, farm inputs removal of VAT on fuel and a general review of all tax measures in place and which continue to choke the economy
- Freeze the proposed increment of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) premiums
- Freeze any plans to undertake road-tolls especially where no option of a non-tolled road exists
- That public commitments be sought and be signed with Cofek and other like-minded organizations – from Kenya Kwanza and Azimio La Umoja among other political formations on their practical means and ways of lowering the cost of living after August 9 General elections