The true worth of a billion Kenya shillings
SEE ALSO :Detectives quiz Waititu's entire cabinetOf course, we know that currency value changes by gaining or losing. Regardless, we know that at some point in the 1970s, Sh100 would be enough to pay mid-level school fees for a year. In the 1980s, it was bus fare from Nyalgunga to Nairobi. In the 1990s, Sh100 would only buy you food worth a reasonable dinner for two persons – for anyone, but Kileleshwa folks. By year 2000 and beyond, Sh100 would be a one-way ticket from somewhere in Ruiru to Nairobi CBD. Today Sh100 is end-month change for a waiter in some dark corner joint. So, we do understand that a million Kenya shillings of the 1990s will not have the same value same as today. But, surely, jumping from millions to billions is indeed ‘leapfrogging’ our economy.
Mind bogglingEven those of us who still think a million shillings is quite some cash to actually own, a billion, if quantified in terms of its worth is mind boggling. Let us imagine for a moment the gods sleep on their job and I win Sh1 billion lottery.
SEE ALSO :State rushes to lock out illicit cashBut, pray, if this money goes to one person’s account, what can one not do with it? To conduct a political campaign rally where dishing out 100 bob is the big thing for the unemployed youth, it means a candidate can run a whole year dishing out money at a constituency level and still service personal bills without a pinch. Now, based on this basic example, one wonders why will conducting a national census take billions? Why does the general elections cost billions? It would be good to have actual breakdowns so we know why the billions are necessary. It is difficult to imagine that a government that has many functional systems such as provincial administration or education system requires billions to count its citizens. The point is, Kenya is not poor. Our young people can get reasonable jobs without losing their dignity if only we close corruption taps. Now that we talk about billions, if medium-sized organisations had a billion annual budget we probably will lack manpower in this country. Dr Mokua is Executive Director – Jesuit Hakimani Centre
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