60pc of Kenyans have lost jobs to pandemic, says CS

Thursday, August 27th, 2020 00:00 | By
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani. Photo/PD/ALICE MBURU

A staggering 61.9 per cent of Kenyans have lost their jobs since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country in March, the government revealed yesterday.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said that a survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics on the Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 found the massive job losses were directly linked to coronavirus challenges.

The survey, which was conducted in June, also found that 37 per cent of Kenyan households – four out of every 10 families - were unable to pay rent in May, with majority of them - 61 per cent - citing reduced incomes.

In the survey, 78.8 per cent reported an increase in food prices due to the Covid-19 pandemic while 41.9 per cent reduced their spending on non-essential items to deal with financial distress as a result of the pandemic.

Cases of domestic violence shot up, with 23.6 per cent of Kenyans reporting to have witnessed or heard about cases of domestic violence in their communities during the period.

Yatani, who was addressing the National Assembly Leadership Retreat at a Nairobi hotel, said the government had put in place several measures to arrest the trend as well as contain the pandemic.

He said the national and county governments were working closely with development partners, private sector players and other stakeholders to address the challenges, including job losses.

“In the immediate and short-term period, the government interventions included containment measures to prevent the spread of the virus through restricting air travel, encouraging working at home, promoting of social distancing measures, and setting up isolation units and quarantine centres,” said the CS.

The government was also enhancing the health system’s capacity, building a testing regime, scaling up contact tracing, undertaking public communication and engagement, implementing targeted social support measures and enhancing public security and safety. 

To cushion citizens and businesses from adverse effects of the pandemic and support economic activities, the government had introduced an Eight-Point Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).

The first phase of the ESP involved enhancing the aggregate demand by removing PAYE for those earning Sh24,000 and below; reducing the corporate and personal income tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent; reducing the VAT rate from 16 per cent to 14 per cent and reducing turnover tax rate from 3 per cent to 1 per cent. 

Central Bank of Kenya also lowered its lending rate from 8.25 per cent to 7.25 per cent in March to support economic activity, the CS told the gathering.

In addition, implementation of a stimulus programme is underway in all counties. Yatani further revealed that Sh56.6 billion or 0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been aside for small scale labour intensive projects targeting, among others, the Kazi Mtaani programme to cushion the youth against job losses at a cost of Sh10 billion.

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