, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – Kenyan men were crying foul on Friday for what they termed as ‘discrimination’ in the Budget delivered by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday.
An organisation championing men’s rights said men were the biggest losers because their commodities were not zero-rated as was the case for those used by women.
“We were the biggest losers. Women were the winners because their cosmetics and jewelry were zero-rated,” Nderitu Njoka, chairman of the Maendeleo ya Wanaume told Capital News.
Mr Njoka said he had expected Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta to “do better than he did in catering for men’s needs.’
“Prices of beer could have been slashed much more than what the Minister did, to ensure men do not resort to drinking cheap illicit brews which have serious effects on men,” he said in a telephone interview.
“There was no equity in the distribution of resources in the family. It is the women and children who were left smiling,” he added.
Unlike previous national Budgets, the Finance Minister did not increase taxes on most commodities and instead announced cost cutting measures in most sectors.
He also reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) on items like mobile phone handsets which, he said, are crucial tools of communication.
“I did receive as many suggestions as possible and I have tried to incorporate in my budget proposals as much as I can to ensure especially that the masses are happy,” he said.
Among the first measures announced by Mr Kenyatta in his bid to cut cost and raise funding for the budget include a Transport Policy that will see a moratorium on the purchase of government vehicles.
Government officials will now be provided with fuel cards, an act that the Minister is convinced will highly reduce fuel expenses for the government.
In a bid to curb excess government spending and wastage Mr Kenyatta directed that all accounting officers including Cabinet Ministers be barred from using vehicles with a bigger engine capacity than 1800 cc.
“Treasury under my leadership has already complied with this directive and I must say I used a vehicle that fits within these parameters,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He further announced that all additional vehicles would be withdrawn from accounting officials with Cabinet Ministers who previously enjoyed more than one fuel guzzlers allowed only one vehicle.
And unlike in previous attempts the Minister has committed to sell the repossessed vehicles by September 2009 and use the funds to settle Internally Displaced Persons.
“I have discussed all this measures with the Prime Minister and the President and let me clarify that no official vehicle is exempt,” he said
Touching on ICT sector Mr Kenyatta noted that the first undersea fibre optic cable would be launched on Friday and announced an allocation of Sh1.3 billion for mobile computer software in support of the rollout of the digital villages all over the country.
In the meantime, the Minister is promising to underwrite funding for the purchase of laptops and computers for all constituencies in the country to stimulate better interventions for the youth through education.