Bunge Chronicles: Yatani put up a good show just to tell us how broke we are

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani is escorted by security officials, along Harambee Avenue in Nairobi, as he heads to Parliament for his last 2022/23 budget reading. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Bwana Ukur Yatani could use a song to announce Budget Day, our annual reminder that Kenya is hopelessly broke, despite suggestions that we are well on our way to the first world.

Morgan Heritage's Nothing to Smile About would be the perfect song, but owing to our growing support for local talent, Tinga's Lero ni Lero could also do. Or maybe Kungulu Kwangala, which would illustrate how our personal economies are falling apart. The country's economy, according to the waziri, is on steroids.

But Bwana Kanacho probably won't listen to me, perhaps because, like Hustler, hapangwi... (Oops! Almost landed in between the gums of the NCIC dog, everyone knows teeth don't exist there.)

The waziri showed up to Bunge in the cliche way of those who came before him. Of course, Yatani came with the magic briefcase that he tried to convince Kenyans can fit Sh3.3 trillion when we all know its contents: pledge forms - which we call proformas - that we carry to all corners of the globe scouting for new enablers of our begging addiction. Or what did he mean when he said the government was exploring setting up a debt anchor? And what does "investment-based crowd-funding" mean? (Emphasis on the "crowd-funding".) 

On Thursday, Yatani had the job of informing Kenyans that everything was going up, which was hardly the hardest job. The economy, he claimed, had grown by 155 per cent since 2013. Our literacy level, healthcare and other stuff he enumerated for nearly two hours had followed suit. 

Food prices, too, were aiming for the stars. Bwana Kanacho forgot to mention it. That would have been the perfect counter to doubting Thomases, who won't believe that the country is on an upward trajectory. No Kenyan needs to be reminded that the cost of living is growing higher. 

The price of chapati has shot up three-fold from its customary Sh10. The unaffordability of bread has driven everyone to sweet potatoes, but even those will soon become too expensive for the common mwananchi. (Something about the law of supply and demand.) Not forgetting the cost of cooking oil that is making us a healthier, boiling nation. And unga. Perhaps the only thing that has proven resistant to growth is our salaries, which have remained stagnant despite the rising inflation.

If you hope to afford anything in this country, Yatani wasn't much motivation. Throughout his Budget speech, he lavished "billions", which should perhaps serve as a hint to the kind of money one will soon need to afford bread for breakfast, chapati ndondo for lunch, and still put ugali on the table in the evening with fried accompaniments.