Editorials

Roll out Uhuru’s Sh25bn stimulus package now

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President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his speech during Mashujaa Day celebrations at Wang’uru Stadium in Kirinyaga County on October 20, 2021. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

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Summary

  • Mr Kenyatta directed the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary to work with the Treasury on a framework that would facilitate the reduction of the cost of animal feeds within seven days. That was on October 20.
  • Part of the stimulus money was also to be used to widen the market and offer better produce prices to tea, coffee, sugar, livestock farming — sub-sectors that are critical in putting money in peoples’ pockets.

Over a month ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled a Sh25 billion stimulus package aimed at jump-starting the economy and creating jobs.

The announcement came as a relief to millions of Kenyans, including farmers and animal feed manufacturers struggling with very high prices.

Mr Kenyatta directed the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary to work with the Treasury on a framework that would facilitate the reduction of the cost of animal feeds within seven days. That was on October 20.

That the Treasury is yet to waive duty on yellow maize a month after the announcement means farmers will continue cutting back on production or abandon farming altogether.

The shortage of animal products, including chicken meat, pork and eggs, will push up the prices especially as Kenyans head into the December festive season, adding inflationary pressure to households grappling with fee payments in the shortened school programme, high cooking gas, and electricity costs.

Part of the stimulus money was also to be used to widen the market and offer better produce prices to tea, coffee, sugar, livestock farming — sub-sectors that are critical in putting money in peoples’ pockets or improving purchasing power. But few farmers in these sub-sectors can count the gains of agriculture.

The Treasury must bring this economic stimulus to reality. Further delays mean that sub-sectors such as tea, coffee, sugarcane, and livestock — which were were to receive Sh1.5 billion each — will continue suffering.

Besides agriculture, the President directed the allocation of Sh8 billion for the construction of schools using local contractors and labour, seen as an attempt at boosting cash flow at the grassroots. He announced a Sh10 billion plan to offer over 200,000 youths menial jobs, which would be a relief to many households with unemployed graduates and retrenched parents.

The rescue package promises to cushion hard-hit families and help small businesses staggering from the aftermath of the Covid-19 and propel the economy towards its pre-pandemic path. It is time to work together to bolster jobs and rebuild the economy.