The Star (Nairobi)

Kenyans See Higher Cost of Living in the New Year

MANY Kenyans do not think 2014 will be a happy new year pocketwise.

A survey released yesterday by polling firm Ipos Synovate indicates that Kenyans are worried over the cost of living and economy in 2014, a major contrast from the same time last year when there was so much hope on the improvement of these two issues in 2013.

As per the poll, 70 per cent of the public believes that cost of living will go up next year while 60 per cent said they expect economic conditions to worsen.

"Inflation and the high cost of living are making Kenyans downbeat. Although the economy has grown at a macro level, the benefits of this growth have not trickled down to the ordinary mwananchi. The VAT Act 2013 has seen increase in the cost of many household goods and it is still an enormous challenge for Kenyans to meet their daily basic needs" said Ipos Kenya MD Margaret Ireri.

Last December, perhaps in anticipation of ushering in a new government, 67 per cent of Kenyans said they expected the cost of living to drop in 2013 while another 62 per cent were optimistic that economic conditions will improve.

And although the government recently projected that gross domestic product would grow by 6.1 per cent in 2014, Kenyans are skeptical about this as they do not feel the trickle down effect of this growth.

"There is a paradox of economics between the fiscal indicators and the quality of life as the ordinary mwananchi feels (or sees) the economy at a micro level and not a macro level," commented Ireri.

This month, the World Bank cut its growth prospects for Kenya from an earlier projection of six per cent to 5.1 per cent in 2014 citing low government spending and the maintenance of high interest rates by lending institutions.

And with elections now over and reality dawning on many Kenyans, the expectations for employment opportunities dropped from 67 per cent of those who were polled last year hoping jobs will increase to 40 per cent in the current survey.

"With all the presidential aspirants promising to reduce unemployment if elected, it is not surprising that many Kenyans had high expectations for 2013," said Ireri.

"With the election behind us, Kenyans looking out for visible signs employment opportunities in line with the 'kusema na kutenda' pledge and evidence of these are yet to be seen."

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