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Kenya: State budget must make our lives bearable, people plead

Posted by African Press International on June 13, 2009

Nairobi (Kenya) – If the Kenya budget does not address the issue of food prices, then it will not have addressed the core issues affecting Kenyans, various Kenyans say in these short interviews.

Susan Njoki, unemployed mother: Ms Susan Njoki spends between Sh70 and Sh100 a day to feed herself and her children. Hard economic times have forced the mother of two from Witima village to constantly feed on ugali and vegetables.

Hers is a typical Kenyan rural family that lives on less than a dollar a day. Ms Njoki earns a living by doing menial jobs such offering cleaning services. I normally go without lunch so that I can eat well in the evening. But even then the meal I make is not enough for my family. We live on hope that things will improve, she says.

According to Ms Njoki, everyday, she spends about Sh43 to buy a kilo of maize flour, Sh10 on a tomato and onion and Sh20 on sukuma wiki (kales). Ms Njoki cannot remember the last they fed on meat and a different meal. She will be following Finance Ministers budget to see if he will improve her situation.

Simon Mutuku, Security officer, Nyeri town: Mr Mutuku has pegged his daily budget at a maximum of Sh50 and only exceeds when it is extremely necessary. He treks a distance of three-and-a-half kilometres to and from his work station in Nyeri town. This ensures that he saves Sh40 every day.

A morning and afternoon cup of tea in the office where he is stationed suffices for lunch. In the evening Mr Mutuku spends Sh22 on half-a-kilo on maize flour, Sh10 on kerosene, which he uses to cook twice, Sh10 vegetables and Sh5 on cooking oil. Mr Mutuku hopes Mr Kenyatta make the life a bit easier for him in this years budget.

Ms Priscilla Musundi, Trader, Busia: She expects Mr Kenyatta to make essential goods affordable to the common mwananchi (citizen). The trader at Busia market says that for the last one year, it has been hectic for entrepreneurs in the country, especially small scale traders.

Ms Musundi who, deals in tomatoes and onions, says that Kenyans are overtaxed and that some traders have even closed shop. We are doing badly business wise. Everyday the Busia municipal council is on my neck even when I havent sold anything, she says.

The trader says that Kenyans are praying that the Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta reduces taxes on essential goods and foodstuff so that they do not go hungry. We get Sh100 or Sh200 during good days, but with such an amount you can only afford one meal in a day, she says.

Ms Musundi, who is also a parent with school-going children, says that she has been in the business for the last seven years and singles out the last two years as having been the most challenging for her.

The prices of goods that I deal in are skyrocketing everyday, but you have no choice. You still have to buy them because if you do not, others will still purchase them and go on with their businesses as usual, she laments.

She says that the prices of bread, milk, sugar, fuel and maize flour must be reduced or else a majority of Kenyas population will continue going hungry.

Poll chaos victims: Internally displaced victims in the North Rift expect the 2009 budget to cushion them from their predicament. Led by their representatives from both the Kikuyu and Kalenjin community, they said the government should prioritise reducing the cost of farm inputs so that they can invest more in agriculture.

The region, they noted, is the countrys breadbasket and post-election violence adversely affected their productivity. We dont expect to start another financial year with empty promises. Let action speak louder than words this year, said Mr Joseph Ndungu Thairu from Ngarua transition camp.

The budget, he says, should set aside funds to ensure all pending IDP compensation cases are addressed. Mr Thairu further said the government should think of long-term solutions to the countries woes. Donating a few bags of fertiliser to some selected post-election violence victims is a mere temporal measure. Let the budget address the skyrocketing prices of farm inputs, said Mr Thairu.

On the other hand, Mrs Susan Cherotich Sugut says the budget should include funds for food for internal refugees until harvest season. The main challenge for us is that we lack food because we did not plant last season. We were in the camps, said Mrs Sugut. She said that though they had returned to their farms, their crops were yet to mature.

Mr Douglas Jomba, Security guard, Nakuru: He expects Finance minister to reduce the prices of food, especially maize flour and sugar. Life, he says, has become hard for his family and putting food on the table daily is a big challenge.

I have to make a lot of sacrifice, reducing even some basic needs to cut on daily household costs but I am still straining too much, he says. He says his family takes sugarless tea and sometimes he cannot afford milk.

These are things that need to be addressed in the Budget, he adds. He suggests Mr Kenyatta should increase the prices of luxuries such as alcohol and cigarettes and consider waiving tax on food items.

Ms Veronica Munyenye, 45, Fruits vendor, Nakuru: The prices of all foodstuff should be given priority in Thursdays Budget. It is sad that most Kenyans are starving, not because they do not have food, but because the food available is too expensive.

Last year, I would easily provide a decent meal for my children from the profit of between Sh70 and Sh100 that I earned. But sadly, the number of customers has reduced as most of them prefer to spend money on main foods than fruits.

If the Budget does not address the issue of food prices, then it will not have addressed the core issues affecting Kenyans.

source.The Nation (Kenya)

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