The Government will on Tuesday present new measures to Parliament to address the rising cost of living, which has become a major campaign issue. Under pressure from multiple sections of the society burdened by rising prices of essential commodities like unga (maize flour), sugar and milk. The Jubilee government will present a supplementary budget to the National Assembly, which reopens, to review budgetary provisions that can cushion consumers. The government would introduce the supplementary budget to the House to address the issue that has progressively assumed a political angle and turned into an election campaign issue.
“The President will send fresh measures to Parliament through the supplementary budget to address drought and food issues. We expect Treasury to shortly finish its work and commit the budget to the National Assembly,” said State House Spokesperson, Manoah Esipisu during his weekly briefing session with journalists yesterday. The announcement came as food prices continued to go up.
The Government’s planned intervention through legislation follows an announcement by President Kenyatta last Saturday that Parliament would prioritise the food crisis once it resumes tomorrow. The President had previously announced an 18 per cent increase in minimum wage to mitigate the high costs of living. The government has already created a window for importers to bring in cheap maize and at the same time allowed millers to purchase maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) in efforts to bringing down the skyrocketing prices of maize flour.
According to National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale, the Finance Bill is the most important piece of legislation that the Government can use to bring down the high cost of living. “The executive can also use supplementary estimates to reallocate resources to sectors of the economy likely to have impact on the cost of living. As people’s representatives from both sides of the political divide, we are ready to support the Government in any initiative that will reduce the burden on the taxpayer at least in the next three months,” said Mr Duale.
The Finance Bill sets out taxation measures to be implemented by the Government in a given financial year. But shortly after the State House announcement, the Opposition dismissed the efforts “too little too late.” National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee Mutava Musyimi said his committee was yet to see the proposals from Treasury, which could be tabled in the House as early as this week. “We are yet to receive the document because it is with the executive. I can only comment on it once it becomes the property of Parliament,” said Mr Musyimi. “What they are proposing will not affect the 2017/2018 budget, which begins on July 1,” said the Mbeere South MP.
NASA co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka said the government had failed its people. “Jubilee is taking Kenyans for a ride. What can they achieve in two months that they could not do in five years?” Kalonzo posed.