There is increasing talk and speculation about an impending government reshuffle involving Cabinet and Principal Secretaries.
Nearly a year into President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term, it is time to take stock of both the progress, and lack of it, and act accordingly.
What we are witnessing is more presidential grit and focus and the fight against corruption is a good example. It also makes sense to look at where restructuring can take place so as to avoid, or reduce the perennial problems, for example, in the maize sector.
Indeed, we often concentrate more on office bearers and personalities rather than the actual institutional arms and legs of government. In fact, there is a strong argument for it being the other way round as happens in many parts of the world.
Let us identify three of several key areas that have had a turbulent time or could have performed better. Again it must be emphasised that the trials and tribulations of one sector cannot be linked solely to the office holders.
One cannot blame Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri per se for the string of mishaps, incompetence and scams bedevilling the ministry. To find fault with him for the can of worms called National Cereals and Produce Board without bringing in his predecessor, Mr Willy Bett, and several others as well as the flawed nature of the setup itself, is misguided.
The NCPB is an outdated, incompetent and often corrupt setup that is not fit to have the mandate it has. Farmers deserve a better deal in terms of financial security and consumers should not be vulnerable in the supply of the staple at an affordable price.
A warehousing receipt system where maize surpluses can be stored is a step in the right direction. This would provide the farmer with greater financial security as he is not forced to sell all at times of surplus at throwaway prices. The receipts can be used as a form of financial collateral.
This cornerstone of our economy needs a total makeover, which will involve often deep surgery as well as palliative medication.
This needs to be applied to other sectors. The energy sector is a behemoth of mismanagement with state-dominated entities all needing a good shake-up.
An independent review and reform of the sector in toto is necessary. This should be in the form of an external audit of technical operations and finances of all the entities from Kenya Power itself to the Rural Electrification Programme, to the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board.
This is unlikely to be initiated from within and the President must lead from the front on this. Another area is overall economic policy.
There are too many knee-jerk so-called policies carried out often on a hand to mouth basis. There is a need for macroeconomic policy coordination with an appropriate mix of fiscal and monetary actions. Government budgets must be met and adhered to in a prudent and effective manner.
The monetary side must be strict in terms of not allowing expenditure overruns but at the same time sensitive to the basic fiscal needs.
That involves not metaphorically printing money to feed an insatiable government while ensuring it is allocated as equitably and prudently as possible so goods and services can be delivered and carried out.
Budget co-ordination is a must. This could be overseen and co-ordinated by an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the President’s Office.
The ministries would formulate and cost their proposals complete with a results-based frameworks and submit them to the OMB for scrutiny.
Once cleared they are evaluated on the benchmarks: Planning for results; budgeting for results; implementation for results; monitoring and evaluation.
We need to devote more resources and energy to revitalising and restructuring the relevant key cogs of economic management to get the country really moving rather than reshuffling office bearers like a pack of cards.
Mr Shaw is an economic and public policy analyst. [email protected]