NAIROBI, October 20- President Mwai Kibaki has constituted an economic task force made up of representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Planning and the Central Bank of Kenya to keep vigil of the current global crisis.
Addressing Kenyans during this year’s Kenyatta Day celebrations, the President observed that Kenya is a member of the global community and as such it was inevitable that the effects of the crisis would be felt in the country.
“Indeed, I know that many of you are anxious about what the financial crisis means in terms of future credit access and performance of the stock market,” he said adding that the task force would be expected to draw up a strategy to ensure continued access to affordable credit by both individuals and small business owners.
The on-going economic slump in the United States has spread across the world threatening to crumble financial institutions and the jury is still out on whether the meltdown will have any impact on Africa. The Nairobi Stock Exchange has stagnated to a three year lows in recent months.
In an apparent reference to the government’s bid to protect investors against rogue stockbrokers, the Head of State also instructed the team to provide recommendations that would strengthen the capital markets and guard against manipulation of prices of equities and bonds on the stock market.
To address the food crisis, President Kibaki revealed that he had ordered the Ministries of Agriculture, Special Programmes and Finance to import maize and purchase grain to ensure adequate stocks.
“This maize will be distributed to National Cereals and Produce Board depots in the badly affected areas and sold at affordable prices or distributed as relief to the worst affected communities, so that all Kenyans will have enough to eat,” he said.
He however said although the maize imports were a short-term measure there was needed to increase productivity in order to enhance food security for all.
“The government is mobilising resources to purchase sufficient quantities of fertilizer that will be availed to farmers at affordable prices. We shall also ensure availability of good seed as well as credit facilities to small farmers for the next season,” he pledged.
The president further disclosed that substantial investments would be made in the livestock sub-sector for the implementation of disease control measures and an aggressive search for better markets for livestock and related products.
On the current energy crisis, he said a comprehensive energy security strategy was being developed to ensure sufficient quantities of affordable energy for the country. He was however quick to appeal to oil companies to adjust their pump prices to reflect the drop in international crude prices.
President Kibaki also assured the youth that his government was taking all the necessary steps to boost economic performance which would in turn generate many decent job opportunities for them.
He cited the measures to create a 24-hour economy and expansion of the national infrastructure as some of the initiatives that would create opportunities for the over 800,000 young people who enter the job market every year.
Attending the same function, Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for a speedy implementation and adoption of the information technology to position the country in a more active role in regional affairs and enhance trade among neighboring countries.
“We have no time to waste. We are not an island and in terms of trade and investment, national borders are becoming ever less relevant. In this world of hi-tech communications, business can be done anywhere in the world. That begins in our immediate region,” he added.
He said the country need to rededicate its energies to reform its ailing structures and institutions in order to attract more Foreign Direct Investments and also fully realize the objectives of democracy, accountability and equitable treatment.