Karua demands sound polices to curb inflation

May 2, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya May 2- NARC Kenya is calling on the government to put in place a holistic policy to deal with the high cost of living, instead of embracing a reactionary approach.

Terming the 12.5 percent increase in minimum wage as inadequate, NARC Kenya Chairperson Martha Karua said the government should implement a policy that makes remuneration for low cadre employees go in tandem with the economy.

"When addressing wages, we must move away from minimum wages to livable wages. What does it mean to a person earning less that Sh10,000 when you add them Sh1,000 in view of the high cost of living," Ms Karua asked.

The government announced the increase in wages during the Labor Day celebrations following an outcry over the high cost of living.

The 12.5 percent increase would increase the minimum wage from Sh7,334 to Sh8,250.75 per month for the workers.

Ms Karua said the government should also address the elements that drive up the cost of living.

"We need to look at the whole issue holistically. You can\’t just look at one aspect if workers at the lower level have no access to affordable housing and food prices," Ms Karua stressed. 

Calls to increase the minimum wage come amid escalating inflation in the country, which has put economic pressure on citizens as prices of basic commodities continue to shoot up.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has however rejected the 12.5 percent increase instead demanding a 60 percent wage increase.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said on Monday that workers would take to the streets if their demands were not met.
However, sections of the private sector have termed the demands as unreasonable. They want the government to instead develop ways of increasing consumers\’ purchasing power without increasing wages.

They also want the government to lighten the burden of workers through tax relief addressing issues such as rising fuel costs that are making life unbearable.

The private sector believes hiking the minimum wage by 60 percent would make Kenya an uncompetitive country to do business with potential investors opting for other countries in the region with lower labor costs.

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