NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – Danish Ambassador to Kenya Bo Jensen has raised a red flag over the slow pace of reforms in the country saying they will negatively impact on the Kenyan economy.
Amb Jensen who was addressing the press after a consultative meeting with the private sector on Wednesday said the country must hasten its entire reform process in order to prevent a repeat of the 2008 violence and create a viable arena for the private sector to create job opportunities for the youth.
He said the overall reform process had been slower than expected with key issues still outstanding to the detriment of the local economy. The Ambassador also asked the private sector to participate in the realisation of the reforms.
“The private sector is very relevant for the governance agenda of this country and has an important role to play in taking it forward and ensuring that the reforms which have been launched through the National Accord are implemented to ensure that development, growth and prosperity can continue in Kenya; that we are sure we won’t go back to any of the violence,” he said.
Chief Executive of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers Betty Maina who lauded the government’s efforts in facilitating economic and business reforms however said that other key Agenda 4 items had been sidelined.
“On economic reforms we are pretty much satisfied that there is something being done. On the other hand there are a lot of other things on the reform agenda that continue to challenge us for instance the land policy, national cohesion and reduction of inequality,” she said.
The participants of the Business and Governance Forum also noted that the run up to the 2012 general elections was also to blame for the slow pace of reforms.
Dr Karuti Kanyinga a researcher based at the University of Nairobi said: “The momentum is slowing down due to the political activities that can and have already started constraining the process of reform.”
They also added that the numerous political statements by politicians were also precipitating mistrust among communities, contrary to Agenda 4 item of consolidation of national cohesion and unity. The lack of accountability and transparency was said to be giving way to the incessant cases of impunity.
Ms Maina noted that corruption had taken root in the country further adding that it started from the top government offices to the common mwananchi saying that the country continued losing millions of shillings to the vice. She added that the country had a challenging responsibility to nip corruption at its roots.
“We do not like to lose a lot of our hard earned and tax paying money to corrupt deals. As business people we would like all corrupt persons arrested and punished. However as much as we are punishing the corrupt we need to ask ourselves where it arises from because it doesn’t just arise from a vacuum,” she said.
She further blamed election campaigns and their financing for the corruption that existed within top government offices in the country and proposed that the funding of electioneering campaigns be done in a public and transparent way.
“As a country we need to have a decent agreement on how we are going to fund our politics to ensure that it doesn’t lead to the level where people feel the need to come and reward their financiers through government contracts and through corruption of the system,” she said.
The business sector was however challenged further to play an active role in the implementation and execution of the outcomes of the reforms other than participating in the development of the reforms. The business sector was also urged to support the youth by providing opportunities in areas like none direct employment as a means of addressing poverty, inequality and regional imbalances.
While agreeing that the current draft constitution was largely acceptable, the business community noted that this needed to be supported by proactive parliamentary reforms in addition to addressing land matters in the country.