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MPs start getting public views on inflation

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – The Parliamentary Select Committee on the rising cost of living on Friday embarked on its mandate of inquiring into factors fuelling inflation and the rising cost of living.

Led by its chairman Ababu Namwamba, the committee visited the populous Kibera slum to find out from locals how best the government can address the high cost of living and inflation.

Mr Namwamba urged Kenyans to come out without fear and give their opinions about the high cost of living to the committee so as it can report knowledgably to Parliament.

"This committee was constituted to be part of the solution for the high cost of living. Let us be frank in what we say without fear.  Let us propose solutions because emotions will not help us solve these problems," he said.

The promulgation of the new constitution last year brought with it huge responsibilities to Kenyans one being participation in the making of key decisions.

As if in the same spirit, Kibera residents turned up for the meeting at the AIC church to speak their minds out; to express how they feel about the high food and fuel prices and propose solutions for the government to implement  in order to protect the country\’s lowest earners.

Most residents hit out at the government for failing to act in time to avert the current high costs of living while some cited corruption in government as the core reason why the State could not cushion the poor.
Others though, like Charles Omwanga a political aspirant in the area, proposed that the government moves with speed to create oil so that oil prices in the long term are freed off influence from happenings in oil producing countries.

He said: "The government must construct strategic oil reserves so that in the event of instability in oil producing nations of the Middle East, oil consumers are sufficiently covered by these stocks."

Mr Omwanga also urged the government to effect price control measures so that marketers are not free to set prices for their commodities and services.

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Former councillor Opete Opete called for the trimming of the Cabinet from to a reasonable size with the aim of reducing the government\’s expenditure.

He also called on the government to create job opportunities for the youth to rid them of the temptation to engage in crime.

Mr Namwamba said that the committee would also meet farmers, employers, transporters and experts in economics to help seek a way out of the escalating food and fuel price.

"Next week we will head off to Western province and the North rift."

The prices of petrol, kerosene and diesel – key drivers of economic growth – rose for the sixth consecutive month last Sunday; spiking high inflation rate fears in the coming months should the costs continue spiralling upwards.

Inflation, which measures the cost of living, hit double-digits at 12.05 percent in April from a low of 3.1 percent in November 2010 driven mainly by the rise in cost of basic commodities and energy

The committee will present its report to parliament in 30 days with recommendations on immediate and long-term remedial measures.

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