Political row hurting Kenyan businesses

February 22, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – Kenya’s business community has called on the two principals to resolve their wrangles as their public dispute is taking its toll on the country’s economy.

The leaders from various business circles said on Monday that the war of words between the President and his Premier over graft were casting a negative light on Kenya’s business climate and were likely to reduce the country’s competitive advantage on the international scale.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance Chairman Patrick Obath said the two should exercise responsible leadership to encourage sustainable development.

“The Kenya shilling has devalued; the Stock Exchange has been affected and you are hearing noises from the external world about this country. But this is a great opportunity for leaders to start showing integrity. What we are hearing are two different voices; one person saying one thing and the other saying another. Who is behaving with integrity? Who is telling the truth?” he posed.

Eng Obath also added that businesses would be able to increase their dividends if they fought graft at all levels saying it would reduce operational costs by about three to four percent.

“If everybody in a company was a person of integrity, it would actually simplify the processes in the company because everybody is trusted and you don’t need to start putting all sorts of controls in that company,” he explained.

Managing Director of Cooperative Insurance Company (CIC) Nelson Kuria who was one of the business leaders explained that the insurance sector continued losing revenue to graft as the vice had become extremely expensive to the industry which lost 30 to 40 percent of its revenue per year to fraud.

“Majority of Kenyans cannot receive healthcare because of a few fat cats who deny them healthcare. If the insurance industry keeps the Sh1.2 to Sh1.6 billion that it loses to corruption then it means insurance would be cheaper for other Kenyans by the same margin,” he explained.

They were speaking during a forum where they engaged the media on discussions to bring value based leadership to the forefront. The discussion forum had been organized by KEPSA in association with Ungwana Initiative Campaign and Training Solutions.

Chief Executive Officer of AAR Health Services Njagi Gakunju echoed Eng Obath’s sentiments saying that Kenyans should all join forces and fight the vice. He added that Kenyans should focus on self analysis on issues of graft versus integrity in order save the country more resources.

“A lot of work and a lot of resources are lost because of graft. But if you are able to find ways of inculcating values within the family and within business such that we start looking inwards, we will be able to get resources in excess of 60 percent of what we are wasting today,” he said.

Team Ungwana lead Kenneth Njiiru called for a new citizenship that would exercise restraint and refuse to partake of corruption. He also called upon Kenyan leaders to play their leadership role saying the future of the country lay in their hands.

“This country needs a dedicated, modest, well informed person, self driven or self led person. If you cannot lead others then you cannot be led as it is. A country cannot rise above the character of its leaders and that underpins the question of value based leadership,” he said.

Melwek Engineering’s Gerald Wamalwa also cautioned businesses against perpetuating fraud saying that the business fraternity was also to blame for the increasing levels of the ill in Kenya.

“I read in a certain document that ultimately it is businesses that fuel corruption because it is all about money exchanging hands so it is time for us to take responsibility for our country. I believe that it is time we realized the importance of value based leadership because in the absence of an example people will follow whatever thing is available for them to follow,” he said.

Managing Director Training Solutions Anne Ng’ethe meanwhile cautioned businesses against engaging in dishonest practices saying they would collapse as a result. She advised Kenyans to nip corruption at the bud in order to rid the country of the vice.

“As long as the roots of the tree are rotten, then that tree eventually will die. And therefore if you are practicing negative values or unethical business behavior you may succeed for a little while but it is not sustainable because at the core the root of that organization is rotten,” she said.

Christ is the Answer Ministries Edward Ngaira also asked Kenyans to self reflect adding that the country had a chance of fighting the vice.


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