By Edwin Sifuna
It is exactly one year since the Covid pandemic arrived in our country. It has been a year of lost jobs, collapsed industries and wound up SMEs. In simple terms, the pandemic has been a tragedy for the already heavily-taxed population.
Central to this tragedy has been the cost of energy, which has an impact on every facet of our lives. Across the globe, most governments have responded by offering stimulus packages and rescue plans for individuals and businesses, as a way of cushioning their populations from the ravages of this pandemic and as a way to maintain stability on all fronts. History is replete with evidence that restive populations burdened by skewed economic policies are easily amenable to revolutions.
EPRA has just announced a shocking increase in the price of fuel, so soon after the previous one, and just as the country is going into a third wave of the pandemic. Whereas, we understand the urgent need to raise some taxes to cover government operations also crippled by the pandemic, we can’t see the moral grounding on which to levy more taxes on a population itself on its knees from the same. In African culture, you do not milk a dead cow!
We are a party founded on the tenets of social democracy, and our rallying call has always been that capitalism must hold a human face, where the welfare of the citizens are balanced by the need for tax revenues for government to run. It is at such times when that human face needs to shine even brighter. Beyond even the individual citizens, our own manufacturing industry, the base on which we hope to build our recovery after the pandemic, will be hit hard by another increase in the cost of energy. This does not make sense on any front. Increasing the price of diesel just as the farming and planting season sets in is nothing but diabolic.
EPRA has shown a lack of sensitivity to the aspirations of the common man, and a danger to the president’s Agenda 4 items. Silence on our part at this time will amount to complicity, and we therefore unequivocally state that we are opposed to this increase in the price of fuel. We demand that this decree is rescinded before it becomes effective.
We stand with Kenyans in this difficult time and hope that sense will prevail.
(The writer is the Secretary General, Orange Democratic Movement)
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