Fact-checking the President’s speech


Fact-checking the President’s speech

The President’s inclusion of the phrase “and elsewhere” brought attacks outside Kenya into focus.

President Kenyatta gave a speech on Wednesday in which he defended his government’s record in areas including job creation, the public debt, security and health services. Nation Newsplex checked the facts for you.

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

"As result of the substantial changes we have made to our business policy framework, for two year in a row Kenya has been ranked as the third-most improved country globally, according to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index.”

In both 2017 and 2016, Kenya was named among 10 countries that had improved most across three or more areas measured by Ease of Doing Business 2017 report. However, it is not clear if Kenya was the third-most improved in both years. It definitely was the third-most improved in 2017, when it had the third-most change in Distance to Frontier (DTF) score of 3.52 among the top 10.

However, in 2016, Ease of Doing Business did not publish the DTF score. Interestingly, before 2016, the last time Kenya earned a place among the most improved countries was in 2008, based on the 2006/2007 financial year, before post-election violence wiped out many of the country’s economic gains. While Kenya was ranked the third-most reformed country in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business and it climbed 21 places in 2017 from the previous year, the country’s overall rank is 92 out of 190 economies. MOSTLY TRUE

ECONOMIC GROWTH

“Our gross domestic product (GDP) has expanded at a strong average annual growth rate of 5.9 per cent since 2013, this against a global average of three per cent.”

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the economy grew by 5.6 per cent in 2015, 5.3 per cent in 2014 and 5.7 per cent in 2013. This translates to an average GDP growth rate of 5.5 per cent for those three years, not 5.9 per cent. To maintain an average GDP growth rate of 5.9 per cent from 2013, the economy would need to have grown by seven per cent in 2016, but it is on course to miss that target.

According to KNBS, in the first three quarters of 2016, GDP grew by 5.9, 6.2 and 5.7 percentage points, respectively, averaging 5.9 per cent, which is within the World Bank’s projections of 5.9 in 2016.
In Real GDP or GDP adjusted for inflation, growth in the three years to 2015 was five per cent. However, many Kenyans are not feeling the effect of this growth because average and minimum wages have stagnated even as the cost of basic goods escalates. For instance, month-on-month inflation rate in February this year stood at 9.04 per cent, the highest rate in four years and nine months. MOSTLY TRUE

JOBS

"The stable economic environment over the past four years has seen the cumulative addition of 2.3 million new jobs. From this perspective, the state of our economy is robust."

To get this figure, Newsplex found out the difference between jobs created in 2013 and 2012 (735,900), 2014 and 2013 (802,200), and 2015 and 2014 (841,600). The three numbers from the Economic Surveys added up come to 2,379,700 jobs. TRUE

PUBLIC DEBT

“Our debt is about 50 per cent of our GDP. Of that amount, less than half is in foreign currency. Our debt has grown almost proportionally to our GDP.”

It is true that the debt-to-GDP ratio rose from 37 per cent of GDP in 2011/2012 to 50 per cent of GDP in 2015/2016. As at end of September 2016, our national public debt stood at Sh3.6 trillion, up from Sh1.5 trillion at the end of 2012, making the debt at the end of September 2016 more than double what it was in 2012. Much of this has been incurred for large projects such as the standard gauge railway.

The outstanding debt is made up of Sh1.7 trillion foreign and Sh1.85 trillion domestic debt, and both have increased at about the same rate. In the Budget Review Outlook Paper of 2015, the debt-to-GDP ratio was projected to reach 63 per cent in the fiscal year 2018/2019, meaning debt is projected to growing faster than GDP.

A study by the World Bank found that if the debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 64 per cent in emerging markets, it slows economic growth by two per cent each year. A high debt-to-GDP ratio may make it more difficult for a country to pay debts and could lead creditors to seek higher interest rates when lending.

The composition of debt has also changed. Four years ago, 60 per cent of our foreign debt was owed to multilateral lenders (World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank) and one third to bilateral lenders (that is, government-owned development finance institutions). In 2015, that proportion fell to 26 per cent. China was, by far, Kenya’s largest bilateral lender, holding 9.7 per cent of all debt and more than half (57 per cent) of all bilateral debt. UNPROVEN

POLICE

“Today, I am pleased to report that we have kept our promise. Our ratio of police to the population is one officer for 380 citizens, better than the prescribed UN ratio of one officer for every 450 citizens.”

According to the 2016 Economic Survey, in 2015 the number of police officers was 42,853, which translates to a ratio of one police officer for every 1,031 citizens.

Earlier this month, President Kenyatta’s Twitter account stated that approximately 10,000 police officers were recruited in 2016. Recruits from that cohort have been graduating at recent passing-out parades. Adding them to the 2015 number gives us a new total of 52,853, translating to a ratio of about one to more than 800. FALSE

TERRORISM

“Our engagement as part of Amisom has yielded significant success. We have degraded the capacity of Al-Shabaab to carry out large-scale attacks in Kenya and elsewhere.”

The President chose his words carefully here. By sticking to large-scale attacks, he avoided the many attacks that result in few casualties that often happen, mainly in parts of Mandera County.

There were 205 deaths from terrorism and 322 injuries in 2015, according to Kenya Police statistics, a decline from 3,015 deaths and more than 400 injuries in 2014. The year 2016 saw an even sharper decline.

The President’s inclusion of the phrase “and elsewhere” brought attacks outside Kenya into focus. The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops have recently been attacked at Kolbiyo and El Adde, resulting in numerous fatalities. MOSTLY FALSE

HEALTH

“Today, we have doubled the numbers of expectant mothers delivering under the care of skilled medical attendants to over 1.2 million by the end of 2016. We have kept the promise.”

According to the statistics by the Ministry of Health 911,959 babies were born in public health facilities in the financial year 2015/2016. For it to reach 1.2 million, then the births in public hospitals needed to have increased by 32 per cent, or 288,041 births, in the last six months of last year. MOSTLY TRUE

ELECTRICITY

“In 2013, we promised to provide access to electricity for 70 per cent of all households by the end of 2017. Today, we have connected an additional 3.7 million new homes to electricity. We have more than doubled the total number of connections made since Independence.”

President Kenyatta’s government took power shortly before the end of the 2012/2013 financial year. According to the Kenya Power annual reports , a total of 2,846,000 new customers were connected between the 2013/2014 and the 2015/2016 financial years. In 2015/2016 alone, 1,235,000 million new connections were created. However, assuming the numbers for 2015/2016 were replicated the next year, despite a rising trend, the total would rise to 4.01 million new customers by the end of June this year. So, 3.7 million by March is not unreasonable. TRUE

DEVOLUTION

"My administration has gone over and beyond the Constitutional requirement by increasing the percentage of shareable revenues from 15% to 34%."

In 2016/2017, the counties received Sh301.9 billion, which comes to 32 per cent of the most recent audited revenues of Sh935.7 billion, for the year 2013/2014.

For the 2017/2018 financial year, the government, in the Budget Summary, suggests allocating Sh291.1 billion, which is 31 per cent of the most recent revenues (also 2013/3014). In 2015/2016, the government allocated Sh287 billion, which is 37 per cent of the most audited revenues of Sh766 billion, for the 2012/2013 financial year.

Governors have, however, complained that the funds allocated by The National Treasury are not disbursed on time. TRUE