The budget read this week by government’s admission was supposed to be pro-poor. This is no coincidence considering it comes a few months to elections. Women and the youth who form the bulk of the electorate are poor and the kitties linked to the two groups received larger allocations. The consideration extended to women and youth in the budget shows politicians are aware of their significance in the coming election.
This demographic therefore must be ruthlessly selfish if they are to make their value to politicians count. It appears both our women and youth have embraced a subject political culture where despite having knowledge of political institutions and actors they play little or no role in the inputs and outputs of government policies, except for cheer-leading their favorite politicians.
That the ICC cases that kept us sane in 2013 may not do that this time round is reason enough for the youth to take stock and decide how things should turn in their favor. Already a Bill that wants to remove Kenya from ICC’s jurisdiction is in the first reading in Parliament. On the other hand, a decision on the two-thirds gender principle is still pending in Parliament after the legislation having been defeated twice.
The budget was a win for youth as the government announced a tax rebate for employers that will offer 6-12 months training programs to at least 10 fresh graduates to gain experience. While this is good, majority of the youth are not able to proceed to college mostly because of financial circumstances. The youth can therefore (through their representatives in Parliament and different youth caucuses) push the government to ensure NYS gives opportunities to the underprivileged.
Additionally, the government has decided to tax beauty products yet they are essential to women’s grooming. Consequently, their cost of living has risen yet women and lately the youth have ventured into manicure, pedicure and salon ventures in a bid to earn an honest living. Therefore, they must use their numbers to demand the government see things their way.
Furthermore, the government must reverse the decision to tax kerosene for the sake of the poor who rely heavily on the product. Women and youth should demand through the relevant channels for the government to cushion them from the increased cost of living.