Job cuts spell doom for struggling Kenyans

Many businesses are doing badly and are being forced to take drastic actions. The first major casualty is the employees. Most enterprises are being forced to declare redundancies because they are doing badly. This is one of the key manifestations of the dire situation gripping the country.

There are grim signs that it is, indeed, going to get worse. The gravity of the economic turbulence is evident in a new survey by the Central Bank of Kenya, which has confirmed that business leaders are planning to trim their workforces. Company executives in the non-banking industries plan to slash more than 60,000 jobs.

This comes against the backdrop of a difficult economic situation that has seen the government increase taxation and statutory deductions, in what is often described as a raid on the payslips of salaried workers. The prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed as the people are driven into abject poverty.

Ideally, the government should be figuring out how to ease the suffering of its citizens but it seems to be piling on more pressure. The proposed heavy taxes in the Finance Bill, 2024, including a 16 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on bread, will make life even more miserable. There are other proposals, including a motor vehicle tax, whose consequences will be felt everywhere, as the government tries to meet what even Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has described as “over-ambitious revenue targets”.

The growing trend of persistent job cuts is no longer funny and must be arrested immediately. If any proof of a crumbling economy was even needed, then this is it. The Kenya Kwanza Alliance government is no longer pretending to fulfil its 2022 General Election campaign pledges to create employment and make the lives of the majority of Kenyans, the so-called “hustlers”, better.

President William Ruto cannot continue to wish away or ignore the suffering of the people who voted him to power. He must urgently interrogate his choice of managers of the national economy and crack the whip. Any saboteurs and inept workers must be unearthed and dispensed with.