NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1- President Uhuru Kenyatta has ruled out tax reliefs to cushion Kenyans and businesses during the partial lockdown affecting five counties that recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections.
While defending the measures which include a cessation of movement in Nairobi, Nakuru Kajiado, Kiambu and Machakos, the president said it is not possible to calculate incentives for specific regions and assured that the lockdown is temporary.
“When you talk tax you talk about the whole country and not a section of the country. So we will have to look at specific measures that can apply to within a particular county like Nakuru has said there will be no licenses. So it will have to be a case by case basis because this is not a national lockdown and we cannot do different tax measures for one County as opposed to another,” Kenyatta said, while giving hope to businesses that the situation will normalise with the contribution of each and every individual.
He spoke on the da the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce an Industry (KNCCI) President Richard Ngatia urged the government to cushion businesses, including reducing tax to 14 per cent.
There have been protests in Nairobi by hotel, bars and workers in the entertainment industry whose businesses remain closed following the order issued by President Kenyatta last week when he also revised curfew hours in the affected counties to start from 8pm from the earlier 10pm.
“That fully conscious that 70% of Kenya’s reported cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the Counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru, those Counties are individually and collectively declared a disease infected area,” Kenyatta declared.
Effectively, he said, “there shall be a cessation of movement into and out of the five counties effective Saturday until further notice.”
Citing statistics from the Ministry of Health, Kenyatta said “if you test 100 Kenyans today, 20 will be positive compared to January this year when only 2 would have been positive.”
“This tells us that the rate of infection has gone up 10 times between January and March 2021,” he said.
Worse still, he said, out of every 10 positive cases countrywide, 6 are from Nairobi.
While insisting that the measures are necessary in stemming the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, the President pointed out the whole country will be fully opened when the curve flattens and the positivity rate goes down to less that 5 percent.
“It is our hope that within a 30 day period or even sooner when we are able to bring that curve to 5 percent, we will resume. Like I said, we have not locked the economy; we have locked down specific areas that have been mentioned by experts as being super spreaders,” said Kenyatta.
On Wednesday workers in the entertainment and hospitality industry took to the streets to protest the partial lockdown that also led to the closure of bars, eateries and entertainment joints, with most establishments having resorted to sending their employees home, as they have become unsustainable.
The workers demanded that the government reopens the country, saying they could no longer foot their bills.
On Thursday, 14 people succumbed to coronavirus pushing fatalities in the country to 2, 167 deaths.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said an additional 894 COVID-19 infections were recorded raising the total caseload to 135, 042 this as the positivity rate stood at 18.5 percent.
Aman also announced that 196, 435 Kenyans have so far been vaccinated against the virus while 388 people were cleared of the virus raising the total number of recoveries to 93, 067.