Coronavirus: Murkomen proposes low interest loans, VAT refunds, tax breaks to cushion Kenyans

Coronavirus: Murkomen proposes low interest loans, VAT refunds, tax breaks to cushion Kenyans
FILE PHOTO | Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen speaks on the floor of the Senate. PHOTO| COURTESY

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen wants the government to come up contingency measures to cushion Kenyans from the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Murkomen says workers, who are paid per day, and who will be required to keep off work during this period should be compensated to be able to sustain themselves.

“A contingency measure must be applied to ensure that everyone, whether they are rich or poor, they are taken care of,” said Murkomen.

“Let us think about Kenyans in the Jua Kali (totalling to 14.9 million) who cannot afford to stay at home, or work from home, and even if they do – at the end of the day, they must interact with the end user, to be able to sell their products. How do we protect them from contracting the virus while still ensuring they earn a living?” posed Murkomen in the Senate on Tuesday.

“Let us also think about the farmers who have to take their produce to the market everyday, the artisans, the mama mboga, fruits vendors, retail shops retailers and supermarket staff, boda boda and matatu operators, construction workers and others who cannot afford to shut down their businesses or avoid human contacts.”

The Senate Majority leader proposed a raft of measures to be taken to cushion the economy including issuance of concessionary loans at low rates by banks, release of VAT refunds by government to assist businesses manage cash flow, and issuance of tax breaks to companies seeking to increase their capacity to import substitute goods.

The Elgeyo Marakwet Senator further advised Kenyans against panic buying as he reiterated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call on retailers to desist from hoarding commodities and inflating prices saying such acts will only make the situation worse.

“If one person cannot access hand sanitizers or water, or soap or other basic commodities that person is posing risk to everyone,” said the Senator.

He lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for the precautionary measures announced to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, even as he called on the government to address other issues including water and soap shortage.

“I would however like to laud His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta for instituting stringent measures aimed at curbing the spread of this virus, including suspension of learning activities in all education institutions, suspension of all entry of all persons coming to Kenya from affected nations, issuance of an advisory to all governmental, non-governmental institutions to allow their staff to work from home, the directive on cashless transactions, among others.

“In addition to this, we need to address issues of water shortage facing Kenyans areas facing water shortage and other those who cannot afford hand sanitizers, or even soap,” he said.

Murkomen was speaking while moving a motion for the adjournment of the Senate in regard to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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