Vulnerable Kenyans in 4 counties to be first recipients of Covid-19 stipend


Vulnerable Kenyans in 4 counties to be first recipients of Covid-19 stipend

In Summary

  • Labour and Social Protection CS Simon Chelugui says the Ministry will be seeking to identify and map out the most vulnerable in the country before the roll out of the cash-transfer program.
  • “We have to take a multi-agency approach. The goal is to start with the most affected counties before rolling out to the entire 47 counties,” he said.
  • Administered on a weekly basis, the Covid-19 support stipend has since its announcement last week operated as a pilot across Nairobi and its environs including Kibra.

Vulnerable Kenyans in four counties under a partial lock and key will be the first to receive the weekly Covid-19 support stipend when the Ministry of Labour rolls out the fund.

The four counties; Nairobi, Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa, have been locked down in part since early April when President Uhuru Kenyatta banned movement in and out of the jurisdictions for 21 days to the end of the month.

Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui says the Ministry will be seeking to identify and map out the most vulnerable in the country before the roll out of the cash-transfer program.

“We have to take a multi-agency approach. The goal is to start with the most affected counties before rolling out to the entire 47 counties,” he said.

Administered on a weekly basis, the Covid-19 support stipend has since its announcement last week operated as a pilot across Nairobi and its environs including Kibra.

President Uhuru Kenyatta backed the administration of the stipend to cushion vulnerable Kenyans along other previously announced interventions including the downward adjustment on both Value Added Tax (VAT) and pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) charges.

“As your Government, we are continuing to work hard to ensure that no one is left behind. We have adopted a pro-poor approach to dealing with this pandemic and its effects knowing that they are disproportionately affected. We shall continue developing and delivering actions that will assist them through this period and while the recovery is underway,” he said in an address to the Nation on April 16.

In spite of the cushioning, CS Chelugui worries interventions may not cover all in need including those who have recently lost their jobs and those who will be declared redundant under the ensuing pandemic.

Even so, Chelugui insists the Labour Ministry is playing its part to ensure a soft landing for workers including the present negotiations on extended annual leave for workers to avoid contract terminations.

“The government interventions are also affected as it is dependent on the revenues by the same population it is meant to guard,” he added.

The State Department of Labour is already set to lose in excess of Ksh.2 billion from its original allocations through budget rationalization with development expenditures for the State Department of Social Protection, Pensions & Senior Citizen Affairs seeing a Ksh.1.4 billion slash on its development allocation.

To prevent a mass exodus of workers from employment Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has sponsored the 2020, Pandemic Response and Management Bill which seeks to bar employers from sending workers home during the ensuing pandemic.

Employers have however termed the contents of the bill as aspirational and one sided as they lobby the government to cushion employers’ especially small enterprises to stay in business to help protect jobs in the country.

“Employers are trying to hold out as much as possible. Some are digging into reserves but this is not sustainable. Employees can only be kept in jobs if the enterprise is functioning,” noted Federation of Kenya Employers Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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