The Irony of combating climate change in Kenya
The price of cooking gas has been skyrocketing for quite some time now in the country; this is despite Kenyans calling on the government to address this issue that was compounded by the 16 percent VAT imposed on LPG last year by the government.
To put things into perspective, in July 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the controversial finance bill 2021 this effectively allowed the Kenya Revenue Authority KRA to collect more on the LPG gas that is relied on by millions of Kenyans, this is despite criticism from the energy sector stakeholders and Kenyans at large.
The bill which was rejected by many Kenyans did contribute then to the rise of cooking gas price with a 6kg gas skyrocketing from 1000 shillings to 1350 shillings and now with the Russian invasion in Ukraine it seems Kenyans will continue being overburdened.
In 2016 the Kenyan government did scrap VAT on cooking gas this was done to encourage people to embrace clean energy and reduce the consumption of charcoal and paraffin in the country. This commitment was even reaffirmed by the same government last year at the Cop 26 in Glasgow Scotland where it emphasized on its goals of 100 percent clean cooking access by the year 2028.
President Uhuru Kenyatta during a side meeting on accelerating clean energy technology innovation and deployment did say that the country was determined to achieve full transition to clean energy by the year 2030.
“Renewable energy in Kenya currently accounts for 73% of the installed power generation capacity, while 90% of the electricity in use is from clean sources, we are on course to achieve our target of 100% use of clean energy by 2030 and to achieve 100% access to clean cooking by 2028,” he said.
The President intimated that the renewable energy accounts for about 73% of the country’s installed power generation capacity while about 90% of electricity in the country is from the green sources among them wind, geothermal, and even solar energy.
According to Khaduyu Michael Nyongesa a climate change champion in the country he says it is ironical that the government is been seen by the International community as championing clean energy while at the same time back at home its imposing the punitive 16% VAT on cooking gas.
“It makes it hypocritical for the government to commit in the global arena that it is going to end or reduce the use of dirty forms of energy for cooking by 2028 and then the same government turns around and charges a 16 percent VAT on cooking gas…this shows the government is renegading on its commitments,” He said.
According to Khaduyu the move by the government to impose the 16% VAT on cooking gas shows that the government doesn’t care for the common Mwananchi.
He equally lambasted the members of parliament for letting Kenyan’s down in there time of need.
“The MPs only went ahead and did something after the lobbing by the NGO’s and the non-state actors. What does that tell you? They are just like the national government whereby they issue pronouncements and direction and they then take pictures for a show,” he added.
Stakeholders in the energy sector have been calling on the government to consider reestablishing a zero rating for VAT on LPG to best support Kenya’s commitment to 100 percent access to clean cooking by 2028 and the encouraging progress made in adoption of LPG for clean cooking between 2016 and July 2021, this they say will help reduce deforestation and even prevent deaths and diseases.
“An increase in LPG prices will dim the prospects of hitting the target of 18 million cylinders by 2030 from the current 4.5 million cylinders. The 7 billion shillings that the government hopes to collect from imposing the standard VAT rate will be outstripped by the cumulative cost of the negative effects the move would result in,” Petroleum Institute of East Africa said in a statement.
Individuals selling LPG gases are also complaining of reduced purchasing power.
“Ni kunoma manze lakini tutado nini? hatuwezi pata profit ka tutasell gas kikawa, ni gava tuna blame tu coz ya VAT. It isn’t easy… especially with the decision by the government to impose 16% VAT, this is what has forced us to double the gas prices,”Ann Wakiaga a gas vendor in Buruburu said.
“Si fair at all for us, itatubidi sasa tuhamie kerosene coz sasa tutado aje? We will now be forced to embrace kerosene. The government needs to look into this issue,” Willis Otieno from Njiru said.
BY WEMA TOYWA #WEMA’STAKE