Urgent need to tame rising cost of living

Thursday, November 18th, 2021 00:00 | By
A fuel station attendant refills a car. The high fuel prices have been blamed for the rising cost of living. Photo/PD/FILE

The lives of many Kenyans are set to change, with the increase in the cost of basic commodities at a time when the general cost of living has been high, in the face of the pandemic and its impact.

To save Kenyans from dire situations ahead of the holiday season, the government must step in and address these skyrocketing prices. For starters, a complete and objective review of our tax regime should be prioritised.

Increase and introduction of taxes will put pressure on commodity prices, consequently with manufacturers transferring the cost to consumers. Finding ways to address the long-term impact of taxes is advisable, if Kenyans are going to get reprieve from the already expensive livelihoods.

The government must also look into fuel price. It is no secret that when fuel prices increase, commodity prices also go up. Against the backdrop of increased demand post Covid-19 lockdown as countries get back to the new normal, there is a need to factor in various issues, to ensure Kenyans do not suffer ahead of time.

Just last month Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i mentioned that the government is already in the process of addressing the high costs of fuel and electricity, with the focus to bring the samedown. 

The pump prices posted by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority remain unchanged despite an increase in landing prices. The Authority said the government will use the Petroleum Development Levy to cushion consumers from the high prices. If that will continue in December is yet to be determined. Failure to do this will only see the status quo maintained, with suppliers turning to unethical behaviour such as hoarding products to take advantage of the situation.

Importantly, there is a need to look beyond short-term measures on such perpetual price hikes. Implementing the right policies and enhancing a better environment for businesses, especially small and medium enterprises that are also feeling the effect of the situation, are some long-term solutions that should be integrated into the system to ensure Kenyans are taken care of.

The government must also look into addressing the current drought situation and delayed rains, which are already impacting output from farms. Some communities are losing their livelihood as livestock die and have no other place to turn to and still have to deal with the expensive commodities. Without the necessary intervention, things could turn from bad to worse.

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