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Kenyans might have to suffer to pay teachers

18 September 2015, 10:50 Victor Tinto

Nairobi - For teachers to be paid, there will be tough decisions to be made by the government in the coming weeks to raise the money, Treasury says.

Teachers want a 50/60% pay increase awarded by the Labour court effected immediately while the government says that there is simply no money to do so.

Thus the current impasse which has seen teachers down their tools for the last three weeks.

Teachers insist that the government can pay and should pay but according to experts it will mean tough times ahead for Kenyans.

Treasury says that there are two ways it can afford to raise the KES 17 billion.

First is by raising Value Added Tax from the current 16% to 21%.

The other option would be to borrow the money, which the government argues will further weaken the struggling shilling which has dropped to as low as KES 108 to the dollar.

Teachers state that they feel the Laptop Project should be shelved to pay teachers in the meantime, a move that would directly hurt the Jubilee Coalition's manifesto less than 2 years to the 2017 General elections.

Financial expert Jimmy Ngugi says that either way, there will be ramifications for Kenyans.

" The government cannot afford to raise VAT. It will be a highly unpopular move and one that will affect Kenyans directly," he says.

" The other way would be to borrow. It will likely weaken the shilling and put pressure on several sectors including energy, export and import meaning the cost of living will likely go higher," he added.

" Third is to create a supplementary budget and shave off money from other sectors as has been stated by teachers and the opposition. That would have its own ramifications because the money has already been budgeted for by the respective departments, so it will be tricky," he states.

Either way, something will have to be done as teachers have a Supreme Court ruling standing on their side over the matter.

" Teachers have the Supreme Court ruling as a bargaining tool and will be happy to in that position but it will only mean that one side has to lose out. Either them or the government. There will be a loser and a winner," Ngugi adds.

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