Presidential candidates should listen to the voice of industry



As presidential candidates hold their debate tonight on what they plan to do for the country should they be elected into office after the next elections, Kenyans have great expectations that life will dramatically improve with the coming in of more effective and accountable governments.

The governments (national and county) that emerge from the forthcoming elections must therefore be ready and able to implement programmes for improved service delivery that will impact on the citizens of the country at all levels.

The manufacturing sector which will greatly contribute to the success of the economy has raised 15 key issues though the Kenya Association of Manufacturer on what the policy priorities should be for the new government, in a document titled The KAM Industrial Business Agenda – Priority Actions to build competitive local industry to expand employment in Kenya.

The priorities include; energy security, moving Kenyans and their goods swiftly, fixing the port of Mombasa, making it less taxing to pay taxes, elimination of burdensome regulation, a conducive wage policy, market access and development, efficiency of the public service, industrial development support, implementation of the constitution, dedicated land banks, water security, information communication technology, fit between education and workplace demands and fighting corruption.

Considering that enterprises create jobs and wealth for everyone if provided with a conducive and supportive environment where it can thrive, there is need for the new Government to implement the recommendations of the business sector.

To help the Kenyan economy, the new leaders of emerging governments at national and county level should not only adopt all of the proposals, but should also make clear how they will be implemented within their first term in office.

This may sound ambitious, however the stakes are high and the proposals have a clear purpose: to prioritise the long-term well-being of Kenyan industry.

The emphasis must be on courageous implementation of reforms and measures to spur productivity and efficiency of services. The country has lost too much time with stop-go-stop-go approach to necessary business reforms and cannot lose more time.

The country should prioritise energy security as large chunks of our energy infrastructure urgently need replacing and Kenya faces a serious energy shortfall. The government needs to pursue policies that deliver a balanced energy mix. Provision of affordable, sufficient, clean, reliable energy to power industry and ensure energy security is paramount. Given the cost of these services, the new Government should provide more support to boost energy capacity expansion. Kenya cannot deliver competitively priced manufactured goods and services without adequate and reasonably priced energy. Additional capacity delivery for energy should therefore be expedited. Delays cost the economy more.

The Port of Mombasa plays a strategic role in the facilitation of trade both for Kenya and the neighbouring countries. Manufacturers in particular face numerous challenges when the port performance slackens, and hold the view that Mombasa port performance, transit costs and procedures lie at the heart of the logistics supply chain. The incoming government must therefore fix the Port of Mombasa to increase efficiency and productivity.

The incoming government needs to establish a competitive tax regime and reduce the administrative burden faced by taxpayers. Kenya remains amongst the most heavily taxed economies in the world with 43pc of businesses in the country finding tax administration a major constraint. The government thus should increasingly focus on making taxes less burdensome on business and simple to administer.

It is crucial that the next government helps to develop a conducive wage policy that will spur industrial development. Government needs to pursue labour regulations that will facilitate employment expansion and industrialization. The adopted wage policy should focus on rewards based on productivity and appropriate preparedness for work through training.

Industrial producers need to be supported with access to markets. Kenya maintains an open trade policy and is export oriented. The incoming governments must safeguard this and indeed further enhance and actively pursue initiatives to grow and diversify Kenyan exports while ensuring domestic consumption of our goods. Manufacturers expect government to lead in conclusion of agreements that expand markets while being the foremost consumer of Kenyan products.

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