Kenya raises minimum wage as inflation bites – World – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday announced a 12% rise in the minimum wage as the country faces a spike in the cost of living.
Inflation in the East African economic powerhouse hit its highest level in seven months in April, driven mainly by soaring fuel and food prices, official figures show.
“As a benevolent government, we believe there is a compelling case for reviewing the minimum wage to protect our workers from further erosion,” Kenyatta told a Labor Day rally.
He said the 12% increase would come into effect on May 1. It raises the minimum monthly wage from 13,500 Kenyan shillings (about 116.5 dollars, 110.5 euros) to 15,120 shillings (130.5 dollars, 124 euros).
However, the increase is well below the 24 percent that had been sought by the Kenya Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU).
Kenyatta said the high cost of living was due to factors “outside my control such as the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict”.
He lambasted rival political leaders – including Vice President William Ruto – for seeking to blame the government for economic woes, as the country prepares for crucial elections in August.
Kenyatta cannot run again after serving two terms but has endorsed former arch-rival Raila Odinga for the top job.
The August 9 presidential election is expected to be a two-horse race between Odinga and Ruto, who was initially nominated by Kenyatta as his successor but found himself stranded after a shock 2018 pact between Kenyatta and Odinga.
Last month, Kenya’s finance minister unveiled a $28 billion budget aimed at helping the economy recover after the Covid-19 pandemic put hundreds of thousands out of work.
Kenyans are struggling to cope with rising prices for basic commodities such as food and fuel, a crisis exacerbated by war in Ukraine, while several parts of the country are also suffering from severe drought.
Inflation hit a seven-month high of 6.47% last month, down from 5.56% in March and 5.76% in April last year, the statistics office said last week.
Last month, the country was also hit by a fuel shortage that led to long queues at petrol stations and strict rationing.