Quite often we walk into shopping malls to buy one or two things; a loaf of bread, a packet of milk, groceries or any other thing we may be in need of. On the shelves, most of us will notice increased prices for basic commodities by a shilling or two but often we will shrug it off.
There’s someone however who cannot afford to be ‘okay’ with things as they are, much as our president thinks that we are doing just fine. He takes a matatu from Elangata Wuas to Kajiado town for sh.200, when he can afford it and when luck is on his side, he will get a lift and the money spared will go to his budget allocation for food for his family of 8. He is a teacher… the cash crunch everyone is crying foul about already hit him in September during the teachers’ strike.
Even sadder, is the fact that with the VAT Act 2013, he now has to cough up 16% in taxes for essential commodities. This will not look good on his meager earnings of sh. 9000 a month. He has children in school that he has to take care of and a loan he has been servicing for the past two years. Thanks to the steady inflation the country has been experiencing in the past few months and the sky rocketing interest rates for bank loans he is now paying almost twice what he borrowed.
He blames his woes on devolution. According to him our economy cannot sustain the devolved government. Worse still the misappropriation of public funds in both levels of government has not helped matters. He is bitter. Bitter that after deductions on his salary there’s hardly anything left for him to cater for his other needs. Still he can’t help but wonder what it’s like for those without a steady source of income
Despite paying so much in taxes, little can be shown in terms of services delivery. The locals in Elangata still depend on hand dug wells to access water and children have to walk for miles to schools with hardly enough classroom and teachers. Now, Action aid through its programs has made progress in making some of these services accessible to the local mwananchi residing in the village, however, the government must own up to it roles in service delivery.
While the president may deem it fine to turn a blind eye to the man-eating-man economy that our country has become, Kenyans who voted him their leader would only wish for more accountability on his government’s part to caution them against the hard times. From the look of things however, that boat has since sailed and there’s no bringing it back. The plea therefore remains that much as we pay those obnoxious tax rates let mwananchi get befitting services, only then shall we call it truce.
By Communication Intern Moreen Nkonge, Elangata Waus