Why Uhuru team must hit the ground running in final term

Confidence has to be injected and then fostered in the engine of the economy

President Uhuru Kenyatta holding his certificate after he was sworn in on November 28, 2017. PHOTO | CHARLES KIMANI | DPPS 

IN SUMMARY

  • Three stark realities hang over State House and the country’s future government like angry dark clouds.

  • There has been much talk and speculation about the repaying of political debts with government appointments.

  • The starving of commercial lending puts a handbrake on a lot of commercial and economic activity.

  • When there is evidence of genuine reconciliation, then confidence and investment will gather momentum.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his incoming administration will have a very tough and demanding few months.

Indeed, many of them, if not all, will feel they have been placed between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Three stark realities hang over State House and the country’s future government like angry dark clouds. The first one is the challenge to put together a team that will halt the drift, and, in turn, run the country as effectively and efficiently as possible.

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There has been much talk and speculation about the repaying of political debts with government appointments.

There is enough evidence both here and elsewhere that appointments based on merit rather than political consideration reap a better return.

RELEVANT APPOINTEES

President Kenyatta should build on that foundation. After all, he is mandated to run the country’s affairs as competently as possible, which means appointing people who can do the job accordingly.

After that, the relevant appointees should work out and spell out the objectives and timelines they have given themselves. It goes without saying that performance assessments should be put in place. 

The second is that running the country after a tumultuous year of drought, electioneering and some questionable economic decisions is going to be a very, very tough call and will inevitably involve eating the proverbial humble pie.

Recovering from the ravages of drought is an expensive, arduous and lengthy exercise and should continue for as long as necessary. Remedial work should not slacken just because some of the country has had rainfall.

EXPENSIVE

The incoming government will also need to review policies and actions that have been brought into question.

The extortionately expensive infrastructure-led policy must be sent back to the drawing board and thoroughly scrutinised.

This is not because it has failed per se but because its cost benefits in several areas are questionable and literally unaffordable.

There is enough evidence now that the capping of interest rates is actually hindering lending to the SMEs as well as to the economy, overall.

The starving of commercial lending puts a handbrake on a lot of commercial and economic activity. The relevant amendments to widen the bracket must be put in place sooner rather than later.    

Thirdly, confidence has to be injected and then fostered in the engine of the economy: the private sector and the millions of small and large investors and entrepreneurs nationwide.

ECONOMIC DECISIONS

This is such an important factor and often grossly underestimated by government. For the best part of last year the ‘wait and see’ strategy has been adopted by the majority of them.

A multitude of investments and other activities have been slowed down or even put on hold. To get the momentum back, Uhuru and his next government will have to go the extra mile to get that money and energy back on board.

This involves more than just a raft of sound economic decisions. The country is starkly divided as right is from left. That healing process has to be real and followed by all. Hawkish and belligerent language and actions should be forbidden and anyone breaching that rule should be fired.

When there is evidence of genuine reconciliation, then confidence and investment will gather momentum.

RIGHT DIRECTION

At present, the latter is moving in the right direction, but is not enough to change the overall sentiment to positive. It is something that needs to be worked at diligently.

In conclusion, President Kenyatta and his new government should build on what was achieved and take a long hard look at what was not, and, especially at what failed.

Being candid with what did not work is a fundamental step to getting it right the next time and should be seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.

 Mr Shaw is a public policy and economic analyst: robshaw298@gmail.com 

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