Kenya should increase budgetary allocation towards programs that aim to cushion disadvantaged groups from negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, campaigners said Thursday.
Antonia Musunga, national coordinator of Kenya Fight Inequality Alliance, said that an overhaul of economic policies was urgent to ensure growth trickles down to the low-income segment of the population bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
“The levels of inequality have spiralled during the pandemic and now is the time to make structural changes to the economy to ensure the recovery from the pandemic supercharges the fight against inequality,” Musunga said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Kenyan parliament is due to discuss and approve a budget policy report that will guide allocation of public finances to sectors crucial for post-pandemic recovery including health, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.
Musunga said lawmakers should prioritize expenditure that could improve the livelihoods of low-income groups amid job losses and food insecurity linked to the pandemic.
“We urge members of the National Assembly to pass a budget that caters for the needs of ordinary citizens as opposed to those at the top,” said Musunga. “The budget should give all Kenyans the opportunity to experience quality public services and dignified livelihood.”
Musunga said that coalitions fighting inequality in Kenya are lobbying the parliament to approve tax relief on basic items like food, medicine and fuel in order to shield the poor from shocks wrought by the pandemic.
“Additionally, there is a need to shift the model of revenue collection by taxing the poor less; decrease Value Added Tax and tax big corporations and the high-income earners more,” said Musunga.
She said that allocating greater resources to health, education and social protection is key to strengthening the resilience of vulnerable demographics amid pandemic-related disruptions.
Ciiru Njoroge, a member of Kenya Fight Inequality Alliance, said that the parliament should prioritize passage of a people-centered budget that stimulates equitable growth. Enditem