Kenya’s economy grew 7.5% last year, but the majority of Kenyans say that growth is still far from reaching them. Economists argue that the Kenyan government needs to reconsider its investment options to benefit more citizens.
The conflict in Ukraine has caused a 4% increase in fuel prices, pushing up food prices, causing a drought that has caused food prices to soar to all-time highs. Most net importers of consumer goods.
Cooking gas has risen by nearly 40%, and fertilizers, mainly imported from Russia, have also risen and are difficult to obtain. Experts say it has the potential to affect the agricultural sector.
When SABC visited Nairobi’s retail market, known to merchants as the Marikiti market, Margaret Oketch was busy packing the sardines in bins of various sizes. For a 53-year-old mother of three, it was the start of another slow business day.
“Business is very slow and people are suffering,” she said. I woke up at four in the morning and I’m here and still no work,” he says without looking at us.
Okechi lamented soaring food prices, including the prices of sardines and her products, known in the local dialect as Omena.
“A year ago an Omena was 8,000 shillings, but now it is 14,000 shillings. Selling for 300 shillings per tin would still not make a profit. Fishermen say fuel is expensive and you need fuel to get into the lake by boat. Carrying omena to Nairobi is a lot higher,” she concludes, adding that this is something she’s seen in the 15 years she’s been selling her fish at the Marie Kitty market.
However, the massive economic growth witnessed last year is likely to be short-term, according to Finance Minister Ukuru Yatani, due to factors beyond the Kenyan government’s control. He noted that the Ukraine-Russian conflict is likely to drive up fuel and food costs.
Statistics from the Bureau of Statistics show that last month’s inflation hit a seven-month high, pushing more Kenyans into poverty and hunger.
‘Life is unbearable’
On the streets of Nairobi, Kenyans ignore government growth figures. Margaret Gathoni found walking through the market with empty baskets looking for cheaper food. She tells SABC News that life is unbearable.
“Everything went up, we were hungry, the price of cornmeal, sugar, cooking oil, everything went up. Where do we go?”
As customers’ purchasing power declined and her income dwindled, 36-year-old Gertrude Amise, a mother of five, turned to other lines. From the vegetable dealer, she pulls her cart, does more and gets paid less, but is sure to bring something to her house to put on her table.
“You can earn at least 300 shillings on a single trip. From that money, the bus fare is subtracted, leaving only enough to buy a bag of flour, vegetables and kerosene. And I’m a single mother,” she says, loading a box of her tomatoes in her cart.
With COVID-19, the Ukraine-Russian conflict, massive debt and prolonged drought, Kenya’s crisis has been brewing for a long time.
But economists say the solution lies with the government. The first point will be a review of the country’s tax policy, said Nairobi-based economist Ken Gichinga.
“I think we have a very large import culture. A high income always means being influenced by global events. I think we should start because domestic production tends to be more resilient. Second, our taxation system is mainly about excise tax, VAT, excise tax, which is really difficult because the extra tax on soda companies is passed on to people,” he explains.
Economists say the country’s next leadership, ahead of the August general election, should shift its focus to more investments in agriculture and manufacturing.
Gichinga says agriculture as an intensive sector of labor will employ more people to handle the country’s high unemployment rate.
For now, Margaret and many other traders are waiting with hope that things will get better. But is that true?
Kenyans blame high cost of living as economy sees highest growth in decade – SABC News
Source link Kenyans blame high cost of living as economy sees highest growth in decade – SABC News