Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani has blamed the high interest rates charged by commercial banks for dampening the county’s prospects of a better business environment.
Mr Yattani said although banks support economic growth, the high charges were an impediment, especially to the small-scale traders who want to expand their businesses.
The governor, who spoke on Wednesday during the launch of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marsabit branch at Moi Girls Secondary School, urged banks to partner with the county government to make credit both accessible and affordable.
He also asked the financial institutions to avoid centralising their services in one area and instead open up more branches in remote regions, especially in large counties like Marsabit to serve more people.
Being a Muslim dominated county, he said, it was also important for the banks to offer Shariah-compliant banking products and services.
Traders also expressed their concerns over the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis).
They claimed the government’s technology-based accounting system had been specifically designed to favour businesses that are not local, sentiments that the governor echoed.
“Our hands are tied. We no longer have any say on the tendering or procurement process and we read a lot of mischief in Ifmis since it favours only a selected few who know how to manipulate it.
“We have not received any money for the past three months to pay workers or run any project,” said the governor. “I wonder if the system was meant to curb theft, how come close to Sh800 million was lost in the Ministry of Devolution and Planning?”
Mr Yattani said the county was in talks with a local airline to launch a new route to Marsabit.
This, he said, would boost investor confidence in the northern Kenya county.