Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has issued a directive to increase minimum wage by 18 percent and the non-taxable bonuses and overtime to Sh100, advice 000 to cushion low-income earners.
Kenyatta also directed Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Adan Mohamed, to urgently convene a meeting with employers “to explore measures to cushion them from costs associated with non-labour factors.”
The Pesident has over the last two years progressively increased tax brackets and has cut tax rates for workers on lower income levels. Currently, the minimum taxable income is Sh13,475.
“I understand that you want to have more disposable income to be able to meet your families’ needs. I am aware the workers on the lower income bracket are struggling to afford basic necessities. It is not fair that they should be taxed heavily,” said Kenyatta while he addressed the Labour Day celebrations held at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.
The President said Kenya has one of the best pools of skilled workers in the world and that is why many Kenyans have found employment overseas.
He said majority have positive experiences but there are those who have fallen into risky employment where their rights have been abused.
The President said the Government has streamlined the registration and management of foreign employment agencies.
“I strongly urge every Kenyan going abroad, to use the approved agencies. You should also make sure that you register at the Kenyan Embassy serving the foreign country you are in,” said President Kenyatta.
He said the Jubilee Administration has been keen to enable workers to know their rights under the law and has worked closely with the Central Organisation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Kenya Employers to undertake the initiative.
“Together with COTU and FKE, we have developed a mobile labour law application that can be accessed online and on phones,” said the President.
He said the Government has also reconstituted the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health in order to ensure that the safety of Kenyans at work places is made a priority.
The President said the Government has also revitalised the National Labour Board and a number of Wage Councils including the Building and Construction Industry and Private Protective Security Services.
“I am hopeful the Wage Councils will improve working conditions in the respective sectors,” said the President.
The President said the Government, alongside the trade unions and FKE, is building a Kenya Labour Market Information System.
“It will be a one-stop shop for finding and advertising work that will also let us respond practically to your needs for training so that you can advance in your career,” said the President.
On creation of jobs, President Kenyatta said wage employment grew by 11 percent in the last full year and more jobs are on the way.
“My Administration’s reforms and investments will make us even more attractive to domestic and foreign investors, which will, therefore, produce more jobs,” said the President.
The President said his Administration has been working to build on Kenya’s regional leadership in technology to open up the job market for Kenyan youth.
He cited the Ajira Digital Program, which is introducing young people to online work while providing training and mentorship.
“This will continue opening up a worldwide employment market while ensuring that our youth keep building skills that allow them to raise their incomes steadily,” said President Kenyatta.
He said the Government is attracting more international technology firms to Kenya while also encouraging start-ups and growth of local enterprises.
“World class technology companies are establishing their regional and continental headquarters in Kenya. They are doing this because they know our people are by far the most competitive in the region, and are increasingly world class in significant numbers,” said the President.
The Head of State said the Government has already approved Sh 40 billion for the development of the Konza Technopolis infrastructure, which will create more jobs for Kenyans.
“Construction is underway. Konza will generate at least 16,000 direct jobs as it is built, and over 200,000 upon completion,” he said.
The President said the Jubilee Administration has followed up the approval of the billions for Konza city with a grant for the establishment of a post-graduate university at Konza — Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.