Ten BBI proposals meant to spur economic growth

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative task force report at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. Photo/PD/PSCU

To shore up intra-East African Community trade, Kenya needs to improve its business environment and increase manufacturing’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product. This will not only transform its economy but create jobs as well. To ensure that Kenya maintains a strong footing as EAC’s economic giant, the Building Bridges Initiative report has the following recommendations

1. Expectations of the people

Kenyans want public revenue to grow strongly over an extended period. Elevated levels of borrowing must not be what closes the gap between revenues and expectations.

Rather the focus should be on increasing domestic national savings —to at least 25 per cent of GDP — and taking all efforts to incentivise and coordinate the growth of labour-intensive manufacturing, particularly aimed at neighbouring countries as envisioned in the BBI. 

2. Abolishing farming cartels 

Rent-seeking and gate-keeping have deeply harmed the agricultural sector. There are cartels in the sector that frustrate both producers and consumers.

They use State power and rigged processes, including their undue influence in politics, without adding any value, to seize illicit and corrupt profits.

The BBI team has urged the government and the principals to ensure that clear processes to attack this status quo are undertaken.

3. Creating employment

The BBI admits that the present trajectory of the Kenyan economy will be unable to produce the employment and income opportunities that can come close to the expectations of young Kenyans.

It recommends a fundamental change of course in the management of the economy so as to achieve “escape velocity” and create employment, productivity, value creation and an exporting economy.

4. Empowering cottage industries

The BBI seeks to reform economic planning and policy to prioritise the simplest manufacturing opportunities in labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture, livestock and fishing.

Both levels of government, the report says, should promote cottage industries, with their formation acting as a key metric in policymaking.

5. Development Spending

The report envisions a country that increases spending on development as a proportion of government revenue to increase public goods and services to Kenyans. BBI targets a ratio, written into law, of at least 70:30 percentage variances for development versus recurrent expenditure.

The reports also wants wasteful expenditure eliminated through new laws and regulation. The BBI team has proposed complete elimination all sitting allowances for public officers on salary.

6. Securing future generation from unsustainable debt

To save future generations from unsustainable debt, the BBI recommends that the government utilize genuine and transparent public participation — through the proposed Office of the Public Participation Rapporteur — to balance the need for greater economic growth with the need to protect our environment and biodiversity for future generations.

7. Encourage private sector to form national non-profit foundation

A proposal is fronted in the BBI Report that a Non-Profit Foundation chaired by the President, should be set up to provide mentoring, training and support to aspiring business owners aged 18 to 35.

It should match the young entrepreneurs with a Business Development Adviser and a nationwide network of volunteer mentors. All Corporate Social Responsibility programmes should also be encouraged to include this component.

8. Government development action to be undertaken in every county

 The BBI recommends strengthening of intergovernmental consultation in the planning of national projects. In its actions to coordinate, incentivise, and invest in economic development, the national government should make sure that it leverages unique strengths and opportunities in every county.

As part of ensuring that all Kenyans have access to quality services the taskforce proposes a “Kubadili Plan” to bring marginalised wards to the level generally enjoyed by the rest of the country.

9. Economic and social rights

The two levels of government and political party manifestos should develop policies and standards to guide the implementation of Article 43 of the Constitution on economic and social rights, the BBI stipulates.

This would equiring all Political Parties to formulate a vision and policies for the implementation of the Bill of Rights which includes economic and social rights as part of their election campaign manifestos.

10. Industrialisation as priority

As per the BBI, the government should prioritise coordination of measures that drive Kenya’s industrialisation and develop this into a strong narrative promoted to all citizens.

According to the report, active incentives and coordination should back this effort to achieve lower-technology labour intensive industrialisation; entrepreneurship-led industrialisation; and uplifting service and innovation sectors with manufacturing characteristics.

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