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May 20, 2018

The poor cry as state kicks off plan to blow out 'Koroboi'

A customer buys Kerosene in Kibera Photo Jack Owuor.JPG../FILE
A customer buys Kerosene in Kibera Photo Jack Owuor.JPG../FILE

Poor families will be hit hard if a proposal by the ERC to phase out kerosene through heavy taxation succeeds.

Lucy Kedogo, a 38-year-old mother of six from Munugi village, Vihiga county, says she depends on kerosene lamps, popularly known as ‘koroboi’, as a source of light.

She yesterday said, “I spend at least Sh30 daily on kerosene so my children can do their homework. My night life revolves around kerosene. It comes second to food. A slight increase in kerosene prices destabilises my budget.”

Last month, Energy Regulatory Commission director general Pavel Oimeke said the government plans to hike kerosene prices to match diesel to discourage consumers from using it.

“Instead of adding VAT on petroleum products, it may be prudent to increase taxes on kerosene to enable the government collect the equivalent Sh34 billion and in essence save our export market and protect our vehicles by consuming the best fuel,” he said.

The ERC wants kerosene use slowed in favour of green options including solar and LPG.

Consumers have criticised the proposal, saying it will hit the poor hard.

AFFORDABLE OPTIONS

“This is a direct attack on the poor. What alternative are they bringing to the market? Is it affordable? This is another tenderpreneurship scheme Kenyans must condemn,’’ Dismas Kimani, a 44-year-old cobbler in Gachie, said.

Forty-nine-year-old vegetable vendor Jane Kinyua said, “The government needs to be practical. Gas and solar are too expensive for a person earning less than Sh200 per day. It should focus on rehabilitating poor road networks instead of burdening the poor with endless tax.”

Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary general Stephen Mutoro said it supports the phasing out of kerosene as long as affordable and sustainable options are offered.

“It is unrealistic for the ERC to increase tax on kerosene without offering credible alternatives. We have asked for further consultation on this issue. Hasty application of the proposal will hurt the socoeconomic welfare of millions of Kenyans who depend on kerosene,” he said.

The government on Monday hiked kerosene prices by Sh1.50.

HALF OF KENYANS

A litre of kerosene now retails at Sh78.22 in Nairobi, Sh75.44 in Mombasa and Sh80.12 in Kisumu.

According to the Economic Survey 2018, more than a half of Kenyans use kerosene, especially for cooking.

The supply of illuminating kerosene almost doubled from 296,000 tonnes in 2013 to 448,000 last year.

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