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Faith Nyasuguta 

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared an immediate increase in the country’s minimum wage by 12 percent to aid workers cope with a rise in consumer prices, partly driven by the Ukraine war.

“There is a compelling case to review the minimum wage so as to cushion our workers against further erosion of their purchasing power,” a statement issued on Sunday by the president’s office quoted him as saying at Labour Day celebrations in the capital, Nairobi.

The increase, he asserted, was necessary since the minimum wage had not been reviewed in three years and the cost of living has increased.

Ahead of the speech, Kenya’s minimum wage was 3,500 Kenyan shillings ($116.68) per month.

During his final labour day speech at Nyayo Stadium on Sunday, the president responded to an earlier request by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.

Atwoli had asked the president to increase the minimum wage by 23.4 per cent prompting the Head of State’s response.

Just like other countries across the East African region, Kenyans are grappling with a surge in prices of commodities, including cooking oil and fuel, aggravated by supply concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli /Standard/

According to the statistics office, inflation in the East African country rose to 6.47 percent year-on-year last month from 5.56 percent in March.

In April, the country suffered shortages of fuel, with traffic in some parts of Nairobi coming to a standstill as motorists joined long queues outside petrol stations.

The president also cautioned oil marketers against business malpractices that lead to a fuel shortage in the country, thus affecting the economic growth and productivity of the country.

“It is an offence for some people to take advantage of the subsidy money. If someone will use subsidy, then sell to other countries at a higher price, we shall deal with you and that is a promise,” he said.

Then went on “This is Kenyan taxpayers’ money. We know you are selling the oil outside Kenya for higher profits. Let me be clear that we are not helping other countries, but our people,”

Meanwhile, in Morocco, the government announced plans to increase the minimum wage for public servants by 16%. For other workers, the increase will be 10%.

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Faith Nyasuguta

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