, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga now says the country’s economy could grow at least by 5.2 percent this year.
The PM who was addressing the 27th meeting of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) on Friday said that concerted efforts were needed to bring down the cost of living as well as ensure that rising pre election political temperatures did not scare away investors.
“I call on you (NESC) during deliberations to ensure that we can find a solution to increase investor confidence in the country. We are coming up to general elections and investors are adopting a ‘wait- and- see’ attitude. We need to reassure them the country is stable for investments,” he affirmed.
Odinga said the country’s leadership has to reassure the world and citizens that the elections which will be the first under the new Constitution will be free, fair and transparent.
The PM asked NESC to help Kenya defy recent negative global economic trends, noting with wise counsel and the resilience of the private sector the country’s economy could grow at least by 5.2 per ent this year.
He however raised concern that lending rates had risen sharply yet interest on bank savings did not record an increase.
“Rates have stayed at the current high levels for too long after they were raised to stabilise the shilling last year. It is a matter of great concern that the lending rates rose very sharply while the rates the banks pay to their customers for their savings did not increase as much,” he regretted.
The PM noted with satisfaction that in its agenda NESC will look at the role it can play in the implementation of devolved structures of Government, and asked the council to recommend policies that will enable Kenyans to cultivate shared values for nation-building, cohesion and peaceful co-existence.
On job creation, the PM lamented that unemployment subjected the youth to deprivation and suffering adding it was also a loss to the economy because it meant the county was not making use of the rich human resources in the country.
“I am happy that the council will be discussing policy options that will create jobs,” he added.
He also spoke about Credit Guarantee Schemes (CGS) and expressed shock that only Sh7.6 billion of credit guarantees are available to small businesses in Kenya, noting that the figure was inadequate.
Odinga urged NESC to recommend how CGS should be strengthened to better assist small businesses.