UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME

Pay every Kenyan Sh2,000 per month

In Summary

• Kenya has 30 million adults so it would cost Sh60 billion per month to pay them each Sh2,000

• Tax breaks on corporation tax and PAYE only help a very narrow section of the population

The new look Kenyan currency notes.
The new look Kenyan currency notes.
Image: ENOS TECHE

Kenya should consider paying Sh2,000 to all its 30 million adult citizens to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus.

This radical proposal by an American academic and a Kenyan analyst appears in today's Siasa (Page 10). It deserves serious consideration.

It is radical because it is egalitarian. Every single Kenyan adult would get Sh2,000 per month - from Gideon Moi down to the pastoralist in Mandera. It is possible because virtually every Kenyan has a phone with mobile money or Mpesa.

 
 

There are some existing cash transfer programmes in Kenya for old people or disadvantaged communities but these have limited scope. A universal monthly transfer would be much easier to administer as everyone would receive it without discrimination.

It could be argued that Gideon Moi does not need Sh2,000 per month but there are very few Kenyans in his category. For most Kenyans it could help them survive the coronavirus lockdown, especially those who work in the informal sector.



Government has tried to mitigate the impact of the lockdown by reducing corporation tax, PAYE and VAT. But these measures primarily assist companies and white collar workers. They do not help the most vulnerable.

A universal monthly transfer of Sh2,000 would cost around Sh60 billion per month. It would not be cheap but it would pump money into the economy and help businesses as well as ordinary citizens.

Quote of the day: "We are not just here to manage capitalism but to change society and to define its finer values."

Tony Benn
The British politician was born on April 3, 1925