NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has projected a positive economic growth in the country this year, saying appropriate measures were in place to cushion Kenyans against the adverse effects of the global economic downturn.
He observed that in sub
Africa, Kenya was one of the most affected countries due to prolonged drought, reduction of prices of commodities on the world market, low number of tourist arrivals and a reduction in foreign currency remittances from Kenyans in the Diaspora.
The Premier noted that due to the prolonged drought, the country had experienced food shortages and funds that would have been used on development directed to buy food for Kenyans in the drought stricken areas. “Besides Kenya is servicing a huge debt, unlike other countries that have had their debts written off,” he added.
He said as a result the government was experiencing a huge budget deficit that would require assistance from development partners and international financial institutions to close.
Speaking at the Euromoney investment conference in Nairobi on Tuesday, the Premier however said the government was addressing issues that have negatively impacted on the country’s economic performance including corruption, poor infrastructure, security and bureaucracy.
On corruption, he disclosed that based on the findings of the Efficiency Monitoring Unit and the Inspectorate of State Corporations, he had instituted investigations in twelve parastatals and that resulted in six chief executive officers found to have been engaged in malpractices being sent home.
Mr Odinga further said through legislation and other international treaties, the government were pursuing those who had committed economic crimes in the country and fled to other countries.
“The disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya and setting in place the process of reconstituting another electoral body, is a case in point. We are also instituting reforms in the judiciary, the police and the civil service as one way of dealing with impunity,” he added.
On infrastructure, Mr Odinga noted that resources have been put in the development and improvement of the country’s road network, while plans were at an advanced stage to build a rail line linking Kenya to other countries in the East African and Great Lakes Region.
He added that remarkable progress had been made in improving the country’s Internet connectivity to the rest of the World through the fibre optic that, he said would be ready in May.
Mr Odinga went on to say that the government had removed a number of licenses that were required for one to do business in Kenya, adding the move had lessened bureaucracy in trade matters and the country was ready for business.
In this regard, the PM said Kenya was diversifying from its traditional trade partners to include emerging world economic powerhouses like China and other countries in the East. “We are however emphasising fair trade with them to ensure that there is no dumping of goods in our country that could hurt local industries,” he added.
He at the same time told local entrepreneurs to produce high quality goods that can compete internationally noting in a liberalised trade regime it’s the quality that will sell a commodity.
Noting that Kenya’s economy was strong, the premier pointed out that the country recorded a growth rate of 0-7 per cent between 2003 and 2007. “Due to interplay of factors we have since experienced negative growth rate that is now projected to be 2-3 per cent this year,” he said.