OPINIONPeople Daily

The painful path to economic growth

At Sh3 trillion, this year’s budget is easily Kenya’s biggest and most ambitious. It is Sh400 billion bigger than the previous year’s and has a Sh500 billion deficit that Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich must bridge.

And that hole that presents huge dilemma to Rotich demands a rabbit from the hat juggling to plug. And that is a big headache for Kenyans. Financing the Big Four agenda which aim to transform the lives of Kenyans and whose pillars are universal health, expanded manufacture, housing and food security will not be realised without sharp pain. 

The easier option for every Finance minister, has always been to keep taxing arguably Kenya’s already overtaxed targets and population. Yesterday’s budgetary proposals did not veer too far from this option; the soft target. Among a raft of adjustments are mobile money transfers, introduction of levy to a housing fund, new charges for inter-banks cash transfers.

Earlier, he had indicated a 16 per cent VAT on all products including basic commodities including bread, petrol,diesel and kerosene. The immediate effect would have been general price rise.

Clearly, these spell tough times ahead for Kenyans who will worry about the likelihood of likely inflationary pressure amid looming credit squeeze.

Apprehension is bound to be emerge over budgets which have been growing exponentially, but with a decreasing percentage going to development, while recurrent expenditure and debt service gobble up the lion’s share.

Remain safe as you watch Russia 2018

It’s game on! World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world, is finally here with us. After last evening’s opening match between host Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium, fans still have 63 action-packed matches to watch for the next month.

And today, one of Africa’s representatives, Egypt (the Pharaohs), take on Uruguay at the Ekaterinburg Arena. Every hope is that African teams in Russia will do the continet proud.

Ministry of Sports and local federations can learn a lot from Russia 2018 on organistation of international events. The ministries of Tourism and Interior, too, can  pick useful tips from the tournament. Despite hooliganism and rampant racism, the host country has guaranteed security for participants and visitors.

Locally, football enthusiasts and security agencies must also be vigilant during this period as evil-minded individuals might plot to ruin the fun as it has happened in past World Cups. During the 2010 games in South Africa, for example, there was a terror attack on football fans watching a match at Lugogo Stadium in Kampala, Uganda, where 74 people died.

And in 2014, al Shaabab terrorists struck at Mpeketoni as fans watched a late-night match streamed from Brazil on June 16, claiming the lives of 60. Everyone must remain vigilant even as you enjoy the showpiece.

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