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Treasury CS Ukur Yattani displays the Budget briefcase before he tabled it in Parliament on June 11, 2020. /TIMOTHY OLOBULU.

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Kenyans say nothing to celebrate on Thursday’s budget

NAIROBI, Kenya June 7 – Ahead of the budget reading Thursday, Kenyans are worried of with reports of possible increased taxation at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic that slowed the economy and rendered many jobless

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukuru Yattani was set to table the 2021/2022 budget at the National Assembly in what will outline government taxation and expenditure for the next 12 months.

Unveiling of the country’s biggest budget yet, at Sh3.6 trillion has ignited fears of massive taxation as the government seeks to funds its mega infrastructural projects and loans.

“Life has really become unbearable and I cannot lie to you that things are going to change after Thursday,” said Jackson Waweru a photographer based at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, “I hardly eat and when I do it is not food that I would like to be eating on a regular day.”

In as much as Waweru has despaired and his hopes for a better tomorrow have diminished over the years, he has pleaded with the government to consider reducing the prices of basic commodities like maize flour so as to cushion Kenyans.

“We need to eat and the least the government can do is make life bearable,” he said.

On his part, Brian Yego was candid about his lack of enthusiasm on this year’s budget and faulted the government for being insincere in its pursuit to improve the livelihoods of Kenyans at a time the country’s public debt continues to be a concern to many.

“I cannot ask the government to improve the lives of Kenyans anymore. I cannot ask it to reduce the prices of basic commodities because that has become a tired song. They should know however, that we are watching,” he said.

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For Mary Wambui who despite being hardened by the harsh economic reality remains hopeful of better tidings. She asked the government to consider prioritising more funding in agriculture.

“Feeding my children has become a challenge lately, the government should do something about it either by reducing the prices of basic commodities or subsidise them,” she said.

Rosemary Omondi who is also confident that her economic condition will change pleaded with the government to set aside more funding for small business enterprises, particularly for women who are keen to improve their conditions.

“We need to be supported and helped and during the budget I would be keen to see if the government has set aside funds that will help us grow our businesses,” she said.

Concerned by the sluggish COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the country, Dickson Odongi noted that he hopes more resources will be diverted to the health sector so as to boost efforts in containing the spread of the virus and help vaccinate more people.

Kenya had vaccinated a million people by June with the AstraZeneca vaccine and was sourcing for Jihnson&Johnson and Pfizer to innoculate at least 70 percent of the adult population that remains vulnerable to the disease.

“The whole world is in a crisis and if you check the number of vaccinated Kenyans that number is just too low so why can’t they pump more money on the health sector so that they can save Kenyans,” he said.

While it is a gloomy outlook which has been worsened by the government’s growing appetite for foreign loans, CS Yattani has downplayed fears that Kenya’s debt is unsustainable.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya in March 2020 has seen the government borrow billions in an effort to bolster its response measures.

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According to the latest statistics from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Kenya’s public debt as stood at Sh7.3 trillion as at January 2021.

Under this year’s budget, the Executive is the biggest beneficiary after it was allocated Sh1.89 trillion followed by Parliament at Sh37 billion and the Judiciary at Sh17 billion.

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