CUSHION KENYANS

MPs ready for special sitting to save economy — Duale

Says economy is driven by SME's that absorb most of the workforce

In Summary

• Former Kiambu Governor Kabogo calls on House to resume for MPs to pass a Lockdown Bill preventing landlords from collecting rent. 

• Duale advises state to approach the World Bank and the IMF for emergency support foreseeing traffic that will ensue when other countries seek help. 

National Assembly Majority leader Garissa Township MP Aden Duale on March 14.
COVID-19: National Assembly Majority leader Garissa Township MP Aden Duale on March 14.
Image: COURTESY

MPs are ready to be recalled to facilitate any legislative proposal towards saving the economy from total collapse. 

Majority leader Aden Duale said this on Wednesday amid pressure on the House to convene a special sitting to discuss measures to save Kenyans. 

He concurs that the pandemic has adversely affected the economy, hence the need for legislative measures to help the situation. 

The Garissa Township MP said the National Assembly acknowledges that countries the world over have put in place stimulus packages to save businesses.

He says since the country’s economy is “literally driven by SME's that absorb most of the workforce”, any disruption shall have a major negative impact.

Duale cited the United States which has set aside $2 trillion to blunt business collapse.

France set aside $45 billion, Australia $17.6 billion and New Zealand $12.1 billion targeting mostly businesses and affected employees. 

Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo called on the House to resume for MPs to pass a Lockdown Bill preventing landlords from collecting rent.

“The bill should allow all landlords not to charge rent for the next three months so that Kenyans spend the money on other needs.”

The former governor spoke a day after accountants under their umbrella body ICPAK called on MPs and National Treasury to work on a Covid-19 Stimulus Bill, 2020. 

 

They called on the government to waive taxes for businesses, free up development cash and review revenue share to counties. 

In his response, Duale signalled this as the direction the debate may take should MPs be called for a special sitting – which is already mapped in line with MoH guidelines.

The MP said there is a need to establish a stimulus package fund by reassigning the budget or establishing long-term government bonds. 

He says bonds of 50-70-year yields targeting blue-chip companies like Safaricom, KBL, BAT and commercial banks can be handy. 

“These institutions must support the common good for once as they have been reaping massive profits for long and any disruption has a direct impact on their business,” the Majority leader said.

Duale wants reputable audit firms tasked with the “prudent and transparent management” of the realised funds.

The lawmaker says that “SME companies that have been paying their taxes promptly” be targeted with the business boost. 

The Garissa Township MP further wants banks directed or ordered to waive interest on all commercial loans.

“This should be particularly the hire purchase scheme, SME and other vulnerable groups,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

He argues that “banks have continued to reap excessive profits and now need to plough back to the common good". 

Duale cast doubt on the workability of the monetary instruments which saw the Central Bank of Kenya release Sh35 billion to banks to loan businesses. 

“Who will be borrowing at this time underpinned by uncertainties?” the Majority leader asked. 

MPs may also push KRA to waive taxes, especially income tax, and to revise the VAT due to anticipated rising costs of goods and services.

“This would be as a result of weakening shilling and due to no salaries to self-isolated staff working from home,” Duale said. 

He wants the Executive to request development partners and China to provide either loans or grants in the form of medical equipment to assist in the pandemic.

Duale added that the government needs to approach the World Bank and the IMF for emergency support.

The Garissa Township MP called for a speedy look into this as “the traffic will be excessively high as all countries may need the support and of course resources are limited”. 

On the plight of Kenyans struggling to make ends meet, he says the government must put in place strategies on how to provide food, water and soap to those living in the low-income settlements. 

Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi supported the call stating that Parliament is convened as soon as possible.

“Parliament has a duty to enact specific laws to deal with issues emanating from this crisis."

"One of the options is a lockdown bill. This should address physical and monetary issues, national security and administrative issues.”

Osotsi also weighed in on the call for discussion to create a stimulus package to cushion citizens from economic woes following coronavirus. 

Edited by R.Wamochie