East Africans braced for tough times ahead as budgets are unveiled

By The Weekly Vision Team

East Africans are still trying to come to terms with the bleak economic picture painted by finance ministers who read out budget estimates for 2021-2022 with Kenya’s staggering Kshs 3.6 trillion dwarfing Uganda and Tanzania combined.

Kenya will be battling to plug a Ksh. 1.56 trillion budget deficits and many people were outraged by reports that Nairobi has set aside funds to buy a mansion in the United Kingdom at a staggering Kshs 1 billion. At the same time, it was revealed that out of total GDP for the financial year 2021-2022, 70 per cent would go towards servicing external loans leaving a paltry 30 per cent, a clear signal the government would have to borrow heavily just to stay on its feet.

All the EAC member countries registered negative GDP growth rates, primarily occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a devastating impact on the global economy

Finance Ministers of the East African Community (EAC) member countries, except Rwanda, continued the tradition of presenting synchronised budgets. In Kenya, there was a deep disappointment as Finance CS Yakur Uttani announced hikes in VAT, school fees, and petroleum products which will automatically up the already high cost of living.

All the EAC member countries registered negative GDP growth rates, primarily occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a devastating impact on the global economy. Most measures proposed were largely stimulus packages and social safety net programs designed to provide relief from the economic hardships from the pandemic. But increased taxes in Kenya where the cost of basic commodities is set to surge, people appear lost for words many are unable to put food on the table.

Riding under the theme of “Stimulating the Economy to Safeguard Livelihoods, Jobs, Businesses and Industrial Recovery,” this year’s budget process has seen Kenya adding an 8-point Economic Stimulus Plan to its ambitious “Big Four” Agenda; Uganda focusing on improving the wellbeing of its citizens, boosting economic transformation and improving good governance while Tanzania prioritised economic growth, industrialisation and providing an enabling environment for doing business and encourage investments.

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