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PM: Kenya to battle credit crunch

NAIROBI, November 19 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Wednesday announced that the government planned to cushion the country against the ripple effects of the unfolding global credit crunch.

He told local investors that it was inevitable that the meltdown would result into lower Foreign Direct Investment into the country prompting the need to put in place protective measures.

“It is feared that lower global growth will reduce demand for African exports. The global market conditions are likely to lower FDI and may force investors to flee to other areas,” the premier said during the second round table meeting on the National Business Agenda.

He therefore called on the public and private sectors to collectively work out modalities to counter the trickle-down effects of the tightened credit conditions.

In the meeting that was also attended by at least eight Cabinet Ministers, Mr Odinga gave a progress report on the government’s achievements in meeting goals that were floated during the first roundtable meeting in August.

The 24-hour work schedule that was introduced at the port of Mombasa to ease congestion had started bearing fruits he said, and added that it had managed to reduce the duration it takes to clear cargo from 13 days to eight.

The premier informed the investors that complaints over delays of transit goods from the port had been ironed out while unnecessary bottlenecks were reduced from the initial 47 to 15.

“The government has since ensured that customs sealed containers are immediately checked once effectively. Containerised goods are also weighed once and sealed to minimise the duration the cargo takes from the port to their destinations,” he said.

To further counter the cleared cargo pile at the port, the PM said plans to lay two standard rail lines that were structured to inter link the Great Lake region had been worked out after all top government officials from incorporated states signed the deal.

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“Ethiopia, Uganda, Southern Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi had ratified the rail network one of which would traverse the nation from the proposed Lamu harbour through Garissa, Addis Ababa, Juba then to Uganda,” Raila explained.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to create a conducive environment for investments adding that the much anticipated Anti Counterfeit Bill 2008 which had already been tabled in Parliament had the full backing of the government.

“It is just a matter of time before it becomes illegal to possess, manufacture, sell or hire, distribute and import sub-standard goods in the country,” he assured the business leaders.

The construction of bypasses in the Northern and the Eastern corridors as well that the construction of the planned eight-lane Thika highway project was approved last Friday and was awaiting the countersigning by the contracted Chinese company.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers Chief Executive Betty Maina lauded the efforts made by the government but asserted that more needed to be done to enhance the country’s competitiveness.

The resolutions that will be arrived at by the two parties are expected to be made public at a press conference later this week.

The consultative session was mooted out of the desire to promote and encourage investments in the country upon realisation that investors were avoiding the Kenyan market due to unfavourable conditions.

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