Editorials

Uhuru should tackle pain points ahead of 2022 exit

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President Uhuru Kenyatta. | PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

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Summary

  • Addressing a nation nervous about the effects of the new Covid-19 variant and looming elections, which are usually polarising, Mr Kenyatta rightly noted that without political stability, gains made so far would be rendered useless.
  • While noting that small businesses are the lifeline of the economy, key reforms needed to regularise them and accelerate their growth are yet to be implemented.
  • The President said the economy had grown to Sh11 trillion, up from Sh4.75 trillion when he took over in 2013.

On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta recounted his administration's track record in the last eight years, highlighting, among others, efforts made to kick-start a faltering economy in a pandemic period.

Addressing a nation nervous about the effects of the new Covid-19 variant and looming elections, which are usually polarising, Mr Kenyatta rightly noted that without political stability, gains made so far would be rendered useless.

However, he failed to outline the measures his government is taking to ensure that the 2022 polls do not pull back the little gains made as the economy recovers.

While noting that small businesses are the lifeline of the economy, key reforms needed to regularise them and accelerate their growth are yet to be implemented. This means that high unemployment remains a headache, made worse by pandemic-related job losses.

While stimulus packages under his administration have saved several sectors such as agriculture and health from collapse, food security, affordable housing, and manufacturing, key economic pillars, remain a mirage. However, there are no shortcuts to securing long-term employment without substantial reforms and investment in these sectors.

Granted, there has been significant improvement in infrastructure, energy and healthcare, which have lifted the country's wellbeing and facilitated economic growth.

The President said the economy had grown to Sh11 trillion, up from Sh4.75 trillion when he took over in 2013. But not only did he avoid mentioning the public debt that now stands at 70 percent of gross domestic, up from about 45 percent, but also strategies his government is applying to contain indebtedness.

Neither did Mr Kenyatta speak to the monstrous corruption plaguing the country, only mentioning that billions have been lost. This leaves taxpayers shouldering the heavy debt and tax burden.

Economic gains need to trickle down to all Kenyans, which cannot happen without well-coordinated efforts addressing citizens' pain points.

Mr Kenyatta must take charge and not let politics mar his legacy ahead of his exit next year. While he only has a few months left, we believe it is sufficient to put his house in order for his successor.