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Kenya says donor views misplaced

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has hit out at Kenya’s development partners accusing them of portraying a bad image of the country internationally, which has negatively impacted on the well being of Kenyans.

Mr Odinga instead asked the development partners to engage in more interactive and useful dialogue with the Kenyan government in order to get accurate and factual information with regards to economic and political reforms in the country.

“A senior member of the visiting mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) told me that when the mission met representatives of the private sector, they were optimistic about the prospects in Kenya. However when the mission met the donor community, the donors talked in length about a lack of progress in political reforms and corruption therefore portraying a gloomy picture for the country,” he said.

“The responsibility that this country’s diplomats and development partners have is very huge. What you say and the perception you create affects Kenyans, particularly the poor and the vulnerable.”

Speaking during a Development Partners’ Forum, Mr Odinga pointed out that Kenya received much smaller allocations from the International Development Association (IDA) resources than some of its neighbouring countries.

“This is because Kenya is ranked lower in the bank’s country policy and institutional assessment on corruption and social inclusion. Please ask reputable private business people if Kenya is more corrupt than these neighbours. It is hard for me to believe that they are more advanced than Kenya in these areas especially when we take into account the high degree of openness and free press in Kenya,” he urged. 

The Premier asked the development partners to strive to get right information from reliable and relevant government sources on matters pertaining political and economic reforms before presenting it to the public.

“I certainly do not wish you misrepresent or stretch the truth. I request that you make conscious efforts to ensure that your statements to the press or society are based on facts and reality. I cannot always be available to respond to your questions but our senior officials will be. We want all these information on the table. It is only useful to us when you present it truthfully and frankly,” he said.

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Mr Odinga further pledged that the government would meet the benchmarks proposed in Agenda Four further stating that the harmonised draft Constitution was ready for public scrutiny and that any progress made (on the constitution) would be made available to the development partners.

“Following parliamentary debate the draft constitution will be submitted for referendum in April. In addition the Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission has now been nominated and submitted to Parliament for its consideration. Therefore this goes to show that the government is on course and we will continue to push forward for police and other reforms,” he said.

The Premier also noted that the private sector was now tapping into green energy although the offer at which it was selling (the alternative energy source) to KPLC was too high and it could not be availed to the poor.

“The tariffs at which they offer to sell power to KPLC are too high. This is largely because private investors demand high premiums in terms of interest rates on the loans they provide or returns on equity they invest to cover ‘Kenya risk’ which they perceive to be high,” he explained.

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta said that although Kenya’s economic performance was recovering it was still below its potential.

“Our experience during the 2003 to 2007 demonstrates clearly that we can do much better if we only handle the bottlenecks that continue pulling us down. I believe we can do a lot more under this renewed partnership to unlock these bottlenecks that are holding us back,” he said.

World Bank Country Director Johanness Zutt was also present at the forum.

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