MPs should protect Kenyans from high fuel prices

A car fuel at the Rubis gas station along Gitanga Road in Lavington, Nairobi [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Parliament resumed its sessions yesterday amid public outcry over the recent rise in fuel prices.

Kenyans are still struggling with the effects of Covid-19. The last thing they want is disruption that drives them deeper into poverty or debt.

Covid-19 has had a dampening effect on the economy in all industries following the closure of numerous companies, salary cuts and massive job losses. As a temporary measure to cushion citizens and workers, the government granted certain tax exemptions to low-income earners.

Value-added tax has been reduced from 16 to 14 percent, while usage-based deductions have been reduced from 30 percent to 25 percent. The central bank cut its lending rates to 7 percent to allow more Kenyans to borrow at lower rates.

In January 2021, however, VAT fell back to 16 percent, which made an already bad situation for citizens worse. So when the Kenyan energy and oil regulator raised fuel prices last week, the increase became the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Citizens cannot handle it and have called their leaders for help.

It is amazing that leaders who should be on the front lines to defend citizens against high taxes that deny them the right to a decent life appear powerless. This is unfortunate because, unlike normal Kenyans, MPs have the legislative power to change course and save Kenyans from the agony of the high cost of living.

It is not too much to ask MEPs to dig deep into the matter in order to reverse the increase that has been affecting the economy. The government may be financially tight, but that doesn’t give it the right to push citizens to the wall.

No more sugar smuggling

The government must do everything possible to stop the sugar smuggling from neighboring countries, which seems to be thriving.


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