No more Pledges, Plans or Strategies, Please!

Today, August 19, marked the launch of the Prime Minister’s strategic plan in Kenya and the country’s Economic Stimulus programme.

As usual, it was pomp and colour as taxpayers’ money financed another ambitious plan to turn around the country’s fortunes. The country was witnessing another strategy document launched and hope that it may not turn into another white  elephant.

In 2003, we had the Economic Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation of 2003 -2007 which outlined Kenya’s development priorities. The number of people living under a dollar a day in Kenya has increased in the last 2 years that this strategy expired.

We were told that the economy had grown from a negative in 2002 to 7 per cent in 2007. However, this economic growth has come with a higher cost of living – unaffordable housing, high food prices and high energy cost.

As a result, the economy cannot absorb as many graduates as our institutions are producing in any year and the number of jobless Kenyans has increased over the years.

The government did not stop at the 2003 strategy and last year went on to launch its blueprint, Vision 2030. Its main objective is to turn Kenya into a a middle-class economy by the year 2030.

But the road to this vision is still hazy as corruption, poor implementation of projects coupled with climate change and the global financial crisis cloud it.

In June this year, the government rolled out a multi-billion public expenditure plan it hopes will pull the economy out of its deepest plunge in 20 years, restore food security and reduce inflationary pressure that has cut consumer purchasing power by nearly one third in the past 15 months.

The Sh40 billion plan, whose details President Kibaki unveiled in his Madaraka Day speech, will see the government spend close to Sh20 billion on infrastructure projects contained in Phase One of the economic blueprint Vision 2030, support agriculture and establish special economic zones to boost the country’s export earnings.

And now we have the PM’s Economic Stimulus Programme July 2009 – December 2009. There is no problem in having plans. We all do make them and even support fully the government efforts.

The point is to put them into action and have them properly implemented. While we appreciate the good roads that we see to day, they will never make sense too use them to transport our produce to factories that do not have electricity.

The government must go beyond this rhetoric and paperwork. Do not talk of industrialisation when the cost of doing business  in Kenya remains up there and expect me to invest my money here.

What is the use of putting up digital villages in every constituency while we are still struggling with putting together a power plan for the country?

Do not produce more food through irrigation if the citizenry cannot even afford whatever little that is there.

Unless the cost of living and that of doing business in Kenya is drastically brought down all these strategies will go to waste and will remain government paper.


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