Ensure a more inclusive post-Corona recovery plan
Last week’s Budget statement offered little hope for economic recovery for millions of Kenyans still reeling from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
A budget deficit of Sh835 billion, a monumental public debt burden and diminished prospects of meeting revenue targets, leaves the government with little room to dig out of a deep financial hole.
The gloomy news on the economic front were further complicated by reports of increasing cases of the coronavirus expected to peak in August, just when the 2020/21 financial year is starting.
It will require a delicate juggling feat to balance an intricate economic response, a concerted effort to contain the spread of the virus and astute leadership to rebuild our fragile health system.
There is a critical need to balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods.
Government must heed the latest warning from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that although Africa accounts for a small fraction of the global caseload, case numbers are growing at an accelerating pace.
From the first case of the new disease recorded on the continent in mid-February, it took nearly 100 days to reach 100,000 cases, then jumped to 200,000 cases in less than 20 days.
Meanwhile, experts are predicting the onset of a second global wave of the virus.
WHO Africa Regional Director for Africa Dr Mtshidiso Moeti says swift and early action by African countries has helped to keep numbers low, but constant vigilance is needed to stop Covid-19 from overwhelming health facilities.
Several countries have begun relaxing lockdowns so that economic and social activities can resume, as stay-at-home orders and closing of markets and businesses take a heavy toll on the most vulnerable and marginalised communities.
The pandemic has also gripped politics. Balancing civil liberties and public health is a real challenge and the science behind it must be free from political corruption, writes Michael Davies-Venn:
“A global public health crisis is evolving into a political dilemma for leaders of democratic countries.
Are policies that restrict civil liberties in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus legitimate?
How can governments reconcile protecting public health with protecting fundamental personal liberties?”
On a positive note, it is not all gloom for African countries, which have not been hit hard by coronavirus as the developed nations.
US, Italy, Spain, France and the UK constitute just 7.5 per cent of the world’s population, but two-thirds of the coronavirus death toll.
The World Bank has reported that developing countries make up 85 per cent of the global population but account for just 21 per cent of Covid-19 deaths. Why?
What explains the strikingly lower death tolls in what President Donald Trump once called “shithole countries”?
The most convincing explanation, experts say, is that poor countries have simply managed the pandemic better than the rich ones, writes Michael Hobbes in Huff Post.
The Kenyan authorities must not rest on their laurels on such commendations but redouble efforts at vigilance, testing, data gathering, surveillance and strengthening healthcare infrastructure.
We must foster a more inclusive recovery to achieve a “great reset” as rich and poor countries and societies experience unprecedented costs in job and income losses, bankruptcies, non-performing loans, supply chain disruptions, financial insecurity, health concerns and mental stress.
The Covid-19 calamity is inflicting pain on the most vulnerable leading to a significant rise in income inequality.
Policymakers must do everything in their power to promote a more inclusive recovery that benefits all segments of society. —[email protected]