BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,26TH JUNE,2022-Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua now say they will lower the cost of living in Kenya within their first 100 days in office, if elected to the house on the hill at the August 9 polls.
This comes after a recent report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) revealed that the country’s cost of living had registered its biggest jump in more than two years.
Odinga and Karua, speaking jointly during a roundtable with journalists on Tuesday evening, pledged to reverse this by cutting down on government expenditures.
According to the two leaders, by reducing government spending and prioritizing on essential services in the budget, his government will then be able to make life a bit easier for the common man.
“You can make some adjustments, when you for example cut down on some expenditures and focus on feeding the people, making it much more bearable for the local person in the country. And we’re really just talking about basically just essential commodities like the cost of unga, sugar, cooking oil, fuel etc…you can look at budget and make some adjustments in terms of expenditure, both recurrent and development,” said Odinga.
Karua, on her part, stated: “When we ascend to office, we have given a pledge that within our first 100 days in office, we will bring down the cost of living. And there are numerous ways to achieve this, like my principal (Odinga) has already explained. And this will not be the first time that a government tried to lower the cost of living.”
“During the Mwai Kibaki era, the government tried to lower the cost of living by, for instance, looking for ways of providing maize to industries at cheaper prices so as to lower the cost of flour,” she added.
As far as the current cost of living is concerned, Odinga and Karua sought to distance themselves saying they’re not yet in government hence cannot really do anything to change it.
Odinga however stated that he has had the discussion with President Uhuru Kenyatta on the matter and tried to present to him his ideas on how to handle the situation.
His role in the current government, he sought to clarify, is strictly advisorial, hence dismissing allegations from the opposing political camp that he enjoys State privileges hence has powers to lower the cost of living for Kenyans.
“I do not want to speak for the government, but I have indeed spoken to President Kenyatta about these issues. I know he is facing a lot of challenges, for example now the government is being pulled in two different directions; there is a faction government that is opposing that very government’s agenda,” he said.
“That faction of government is playing with the livelihood of Kenyans. They’re trying to divert attention of the public, playing populist politics with the cost of living.”
He also sought to defend the President Kenyatta-led government from blame saying there are a lot of external factors that have contributed to the current cost of living.
“Kenyans are not stupid, they know very well that I’m not in government. I don’t earn a salary or allowance from government and I don’t live in a government house, but I advise. I can give some advice…it is not implementable, the user may or may not use it,” he said.
“But having been in government, I also know the challenges which a government faces. Like this crisis we’re in right now, it’s a serious crisis, you can see the way the cost of oil has gone up, so virtually everything else goes up because they all depend on oil for manufacturing.”
He further added: “There have been other events which have taken place in other parts of the world, which have themselves are major contributing factors to the cost of living not only in Kenya, but around the world. Even the USA is fighting it, European countries are having serious problems because of what is happening in Ukraine.”