More Reactionn Over Kenya Budget
NAIROBI, June 16 (HANA)–There were mixed reactions from Kenyans to 2006/2007 fiscal budget which was presented in Nairobi on Thursday with others welcoming radical measures introduced by the finance minister while others expressing misgivings on certain taxations.
Ordinary Kenyans said the 2006/2007 financial budget presented by Finance Minister Amos Kimunya has good news for the youth, particularly the upcoming artistes because it touched on issues of entertainment and training.
And for the first time in Kenya’s history, most political leaders praised the Budget but warned that the real test lay in its implementation.
The political leaders said implementing the Budget would be the greatest test to the government’s commitment to helping its people.
“The budget was good for the youth as it creates money for youth training and it also touched on issues to deal with entertainment which would help artistes. I feel that the government should have increased taxation on spirits not beer, this is because spirits are more harmful to one’s health,” said Mukutsi Kiyayi, a student.
“Policy makers must be realistic. Declaring that they have removed road license fee is laughable. I mean how many Kenyans own private cars? And as for the beer, I think it is unfair to increase taxes even if it is on malt. The government stands to lose a lot of money because Kenyans will reduce their rate of consumption,” said Nicholas Musonye, a football administrator.
“This is the first time issues about the youth are being addressed and I urge the government to exercise transparency in administering the fund,” Kenyatta said.
In his budget speech, Kimunya said the rapid economic growth the country is experiencing is central to reducing poverty and inequality, adding that the government has taken specific interventions to ensure all Kenyans benefit.
“Accordingly, to ensure that the expected growth will be shared, the combined share of resources I am allocating to health, education, agriculture and rural development and to infrastructure will rise from 60.7 percent in 2005/06 to 62.7 percent in 2006/07 and will rise further to 66.5 percent by 2008/09,” he said.
The minister also said the government has established a Youth Enterprise Fund and allocated 1 billion shillings to enable people access credit to start or scale up small and medium scale enterprises.
But Kimunya’s predecessor, David Mwiraria criticized the move to phase out road licences and shift the charge to road maintenance fee.
Mwiraria who resigned early this year over graft allegations, said the resultant increase in 3.50 shillings per litre, was likely to increase fares in public transport.
“The only thing I didn’t like was the increase of 3.50 shillings per litre. This will increase the cost of public transport,” said the former finance minister.
However, he described the Budget as “good” and full of “new inventions and additionals”.
“For instance the proposal to set up a youth fund and providing money for village polytechnics. They are good measures meant for development,” he said.
Mwiraria supported the move to tax lawmakers’ salaries, allowances and other benefits. “If we are taxing even holders of constitutional offices, why not MPs?” he asked.
Shadow finance minister Billow Kerrow said it was wise of Kimunya not to factor in donor funds.
“Some means of raising revenue introduced by the minister were innovative,” Kerrow said as he welcomed the setting up of a youth fund and the promise to revive village polytechnics.
However, the lawmaker said the benefits would not be passed to consumers, noting that in the last year’s budget, the government zero-rated taxes on cooking gas, maize flour and other products but traders failed to reduce their retail prices.
Former ruling party KANU, Secretary General William Ruto welcomed the scaling down on the use of government vehicles, adding that ministers and civil servants should only use the cars while on official duty.
A cross section of women described the budget as innovative and welcomed proposals zero-rating nappies and diapers.
“I applaud the government for thinking about women and giving them more money to support their businesses. What I liked about is that nappies and diapers have been zero-rated and it means more mothers can be able to afford them,” said Monica Barasa, a pharmacist.
“But the issue of rise of fuel prices is not amusing. I think the government should target the rich by taxing private car owners,” she said.
Kanu lawmaker, Amina Abdala said the Budget “sounds positive” but hoped that it was not aimed at achieving political mileage. “A lot of things are good but appear to be populist,” she warned.
In his Budget speech, Kimunya said the government has made a deliberate effort to provide an enabling environment for their participation in national development.
He said the government has taken measures to increase employment opportunities for women and ensure they access credit, healthcare, clean water and education.
“Priority will be given to provision of portable and clean water within reasonable walking distance in order to reduce water related illnesses and time spent by women and girls in search of water,” he said.
On poverty reduction and addressing inequality, the finance minister zero rated wheat flour to make it affordable to consumers, noting that last year the government zero rated other basic commodities including maize flour, milk, LPG and Kerosene making them affordable too Kenyans.
He also zero-rated baby’s diapers, napkins and feeding bottles to ease the family burden of raising children.
“I expect the traders to translate this relief into reduced prices and enable many mothers to access these products for childcare,” the Finance Minister said.
The Minister said salaries and allowances for lawmakers including holders of the constitutional offices will be taxed to enable them contribute toward the development of the country.
Kimunya said senior government officials would only be allowed one official car as a measure of reducing expenditure.
“There is nothing to celebrate about the Budget. It does not change my lifestyle. I will now have to pay more to commute, which will significantly eat into my income. Meanwhile, my young son in Makueni is waiting for daddy to feed him. Every year the government promises us good things but they not materialize,” said Tyrus Mutuku, a salesman.
Kenya’s economy, the largest in East Africa, was projected to grow by 5.8 percent in the coming financial year and Kimunya said that it grew at the same rate in the past year.
Kenya also introduced a raft of reforms targeted at easing the climate for doing business in the country, announcing the scrapping of 117 licenses, a review of seven other licenses and the reduction in the costs of 700 other licenses. Enditem