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President Kenyatta and COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli led Kenyans in celebrating this year's Labour Day from State House, Nairobi. /PSCU.

Coronavirus

Uhuru warns of 500,000 job losses in 6 months should COVID-19 persist

NAIROBI, Kenya May 1 – President Uhuru Kenyatta Friday said the government has put in place measures to avert an economic meltdown amid projections of more than half a million job losses in the next six months should the coronavirus pandemic persist.

During his address to Kenyans on Labor Day, he reiterated the need to put the country’s economy on a strong growth path failure to which will worsen the situation in the country.

“We cannot relax in our efforts to conquer this invisible enemy and to put our economy on a strong growth path. Because, if we do not, we could lose upwards of half a million jobs over the next 6 months.  We must do whatever it takes to minimize, if not to fully contain such loss in jobs,” he said.

Coronavirus had infected 411 people an killed 21 killed others by May 1, with the global infections topping over 3 million and more than 200,000 dead.

A report tabled before a Parliamentary committee on April 28th indicated that 133,657 people, mainly in the formal sector have been rendered jobless.

 The document prepared by the Ministry of Labour and Social protection excludes workers who have been sent on unpaid leave and those subjected to pay cuts.

Kenyatta, however, assured that his government will do whatever it takes to minimize such losses in jobs highlighting some of the fiscal and monetary policy measures to cushion the looming situation.

“As a Government, we are at work to flatten the Corona curve; but fundamentally, I want us to flatten and crush the curve of joblessness.  And we will do it,” he said.

The Head of State recently signed a newly amended tax Bill which, among other things, offers  100 percent Pay As You Earn tax relief for earnings below Sh 28,000 per month.

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Under the new law, those earning above the new threshold will benefit from a PAYE tax reduction of between 30 and 25 percent.

Similarly, the new Act has revised Corporation Tax to 25 percent while Non-Resident Tax on Dividends has been adjusted from 10 to 15 percent.

He added that, “The hardest hit, in the economy are workers in the informal sector, the self-employed and casual labourers.  Majority of these are young people who may not have any savings to cushion themselves from this pandemic.

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