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MPs to seek public views on inflation

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – The newly formed Parliamentary Select Committee on the Cost of Living held its first meeting on Thursday and announced that it would hold public hearings on inflation in the country.

The committee chaired by Budalang\’i legislator Ababu Namwamba said it would engage ordinary citizens, consumer groups, millers, farmers, transporters, oil dealers, government agencies as well as the President and Prime Minister, before submitting its report to the House.

Mr Namwamba, who was speaking to journalists in Nairobi, explained that the committee would meet again next Tuesday to set the hearings schedule and also adopt terms of reference.

"We hope to go to where the people are; if the people are in Kibera, then that is where this committee will go. If farmers are in Cherangany, this committee will hold its session with farmers in Cherangany," he said.

He added that the 11-member committee would not travel abroad to seek solutions to the issue, since excessive foreign travel by various government officials increased the financial burden on Kenyan tax payers.

"Even though this committee will be addressing programmes like social safety nets and the meal vouchers used in France, we believe that it will be sufficient to engage with the French embassy in Nairobi to learn how they work in France," he said.

"We do believe that excessive foreign travel is part of the problem here," he said.

The committee has 30 days to present its report to Parliament for debate. The report will include both long and short term strategies that will cushion Kenyans against spiralling costs of living.

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"Let\’s not lose faith even before we begin our work. We believe that our report will be implemented and we shall remain very keen. But we are also asking Kenyans to remain vigilant and make sure that these recommendations are effected," he said.

Mr Namwamba was accompanied by committee members Elias Mbau (Maragua), John Mbadi (Gwasi), Eseli Simiyu (Kimilili), Nkoidila ole Lankas (Narok South), and Rachel Shebesh (Nominated).

Gichugu MP Martha Karua, Charles Kilonzo (Yatta), Joyce Laboso (Sotik) and Mohamed Gabow (Wajir North), who are also members of the committee, were away on various assignments.

The committee chose nominated MP Shakila Abdalla as the Vice Chairperson

The Motion to form a select team of MPs tasked with addressing inflation was filed by Mr Namwamba.  It was unanimously passed by Parliament on Wednesday.

While arguing for the motion, Mr Namwamba said that the high inflation threatened national stability and therefore called for a speedy sustainable solution.

According to figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, inflation jumped to 12.05 percent in April from 9.2 percent recorded in March driven mainly by rises in prices of fuel, maize and wheat flour and other essential commodities.

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