Food Prices: New Battle For President Uhuru And DP Ruto

May 7, 2017, 11:27 pm

The Government will present new measures in Parliament to address the rising cost of living, which has become a key campaign issue.

Under pressure from multiple sections of the society burdened by rising prices of essential commodities like unga (maize flour), sugar and milk, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee will present a supplementary budget to the National Assembly, which reopens, to review budgetary provisions that can cushion consumers.

State House announced the Government would introduce the supplementary budget in the House to address the issue that has progressively assumed a political angle and turned into an election campaign issue.

BRIEFING SESSION

“The President will send fresh measures to Parliament through the supplementary budget to address drought and food issues. We expect Treasury to shortly finish its work and commit the budget to the National Assembly,” said State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu during his weekly briefing session with journalists yesterday.

The announcement came as food prices continued to soar, with a 1kg packet of sugar now retailing at Sh180 and a 2kg packet of unga selling at between Sh180 and Sh200. Milk is retailing at an average of Sh103 per litre, with a 500ml packet going for between Sh65 and Sh70 in various supermarkets, up from Sh50 recently.

A six-litre gas cylinder now refills at Sh1,000, up from Sh800 while tomatoes are selling at Sh139 per kilo, up from Sh109.

The price of potatoes per kilo has also gone up by Sh10 and now sells at Sh139.

The Government’s planned intervention through legislation follows an announcement by President Kenyatta last Saturday that Parliament would prioritise the food crisis once it resumes tomorrow.

On Labour Day, the President announced an 18 per cent increase in minimum wage to mitigate the high costs of food.

Already, the Government has opened a window for importers to bring in cheap maize and at the same time allowed millers to purchase maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) in efforts to arresting the skyrocketing price of maize flour.

Although details of Treasury’s plan are still not clear, it could take the form of lowering of taxes on essential food commodities through the Finance Bill or reallocation of resources to key sectors that impact food prices.

Taxation measures

According to National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale, the Finance Bill “is the most important piece of legislation that the Government can use to bring down the high cost of living”.

“The executive can also use supplementary estimates to reallocate resources to sectors of the economy likely to have impact on the cost of living. As people’s representatives from both sides of the political divide, we are ready to support the Government in any initiative that will reduce the burden on the taxpayer at least in the next three months,” said Mr Duale.

The Finance Bill sets out taxation measures to be implemented by the Government in a given financial year.

But shortly after the State House announcement, the Opposition dismissed the efforts “too little too late.”

National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee Mutava Musyimi said his committee was yet to see the proposals from Treasury, which could be tabled in the House as early as this week.

“We are yet to receive the document because it is with the executive. I can only comment on it once it becomes the property of Parliament,” said Mr Musyimi.

“What they are proposing will not affect the 2017/2018 budget, which begins on July 1,” said the Mbeere South MP.

Parliament resumes after a one-month recess to allow MPs to participate in party primaries.

Last week, there was uproar online after Deputy President William Ruto wrote on his official Twitter account that the increase in food pric

 

 

Source :  standard

 

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