NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – “Allow us to afford food. Ensure we are safe and secure from the hands of the enemy, then and only then, do what you please with the rest of the money,” Ryan Sanya, a Security Guard at a Nairobi shopping mall says when asked what should be given priority in the 2016/2017 budget that will be read Wednesday.
“I earn Sh10,000… unga alone costs Sh150 per packet. I have not included monthly rent, transport and school fees for my children. So please start by addressing the high cost of food in this country,” Sanya continues.
She is not alone. Those who spoke to Capital FM Business ahead of the reading of the 2016/2017 annual budget also asked the Treasury to place health and education in top priority.
“My child has heart problems. Affording healthcare for her has been a problem seeing that I am just a cashier. So as far as what should be given priority today, let the government give us affordable healthcare,” Dan Muthama says.
He also speaks about the issue of education saying free primary education for instance should be given more money because currently its quality is diminishing. “Do not just give our children free education; let it also be of good quality.”
We also ask Nairobi residents what products or services they think should have their taxes increased. Interestingly, many say that alcohol and cigarettes for instance, should have their taxes doubled as they are luxury products that many people can live without.
Additional taxes should not just go to the bottle.
Solomon Otieno who works as a barber in Nairobi justifies this by saying that things consumed by the rich should have their taxes added since ‘affordability’ is not an issue to them. “Increase tax on luxury cars and properties, designer clothes but please spare unga for the poor.”
Taxes on petroleum products should also have their prices lowered. According to Njogu Kung’u, a Nairobi businessman, lowering cost of petrol for instance would mean the general cost of most things goes down hence improving the livelihoods of many.
Of interest also is whether Nairobi residents have experienced the impact of the out-going budget at personal levels.
On his part, Kung’u says he did not experience it at a personal level but did saw its output at a national level especially through the ongoing construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.
Otieno on his part flat out says that the majority of the money went out to fund government projects that ended up tied to corruption.
“That is why I am neither excited nor looking forward to today’s budget. The government will only impress us with the figures but a year from now we will only be in more debt with nothing to show for it.”