Why Kenya Must Make Tough Choices to Get the Economy Back on Track

In the last few days, I found myself in mul­ti­ple high-lev­el ses­sions dis­cussing the impli­ca­tions of the Finance Bill 2024 on my indus­try. As a tree grow­er, I squeezed myself deep into the thorny eco­nom­ic ter­rains and, in the spir­it of sim­plic­i­ty, attempt­ed to demys­ti­fy the com­plex finan­cial process­es, much like prun­ing a bush for bet­ter growth.

I start­ed with a sim­ple break­down of the pro­pos­als, which large­ly seek to steer Kenya through some of the most chal­leng­ing eco­nom­ic waters. How­ev­er, I real­ized that under­stand­ing the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion can be as daunt­ing as inter­pret­ing the lan­guage of the leaves. In essence, the bill aims to adjust tax rates, intro­duce new levies, and mod­i­fy fis­cal poli­cies to increase gov­ern­ment rev­enue. For tree grow­ers like me, this means adjust­ments in dai­ly expens­es and busi­ness oper­a­tions, influ­enc­ing every­thing from the cost of com­modi­ties to the tax­es on income.

This year, Kenya grap­ples with a bud­get that high­lights stark eco­nom­ic real­i­ties. Our debt repay­ment stands at a stag­ger­ing Ksh 1.8 tril­lion. Under the pro­pos­als, rev­enue col­lec­tions ispro­ject­ed at Ksh 2.9 tril­lion based but real­is­tic expec­ta­tions may adjust this fig­ure to about Ksh 2.4 tril­lion. This implies that once we allo­cate funds to our coun­ties, our nation­al cof­fers are near­ly drained—painting a gloomy pic­ture of our finan­cial health.

Please join me as we con­sid­er this analogy—imagine Kenya as a vast gar­den. Cur­rent­ly, more than half of the gar­den’s resources are used just to quench the thirst of exist­ing plants (debt repay­ment), leav­ing lit­tle for nur­tur­ing new growth (devel­op­ment and social ser­vices). In this sit­u­a­tion, I would sug­gest the fol­low­ing solutions.

First­ly, with dai­ly loss­es to cor­rup­tion esti­mat­ed at Ksh 2 bil­lion as pre­vi­ous­ly con­fessed by the pres­i­den­cy, tack­ling this vice could sig­nif­i­cant­ly bol­ster our finances. It’s akin to clear­ing weeds from a gar­den. Can you imag­ine if we stream­lined our pub­lic sec­tor to oper­ate with total integri­ty? Wouldn’t there be enough for all of us out of our God-giv­en resources? I real­ize that the sav­ings here are enough to pay the pend­ing bills to sup­pli­ers, which cur­rent­ly stand at 800 bil­lion, with­in a year!

Sec­ond­ly, we could fol­low Ghana’s exam­ple, which recent­ly took the bold step of default­ing on its debt, a move akin to prun­ing a severe­ly infest­ed tree to save the rest of the gar­den. While this has imme­di­ate harsh effects, such as loss of investor con­fi­dence and eco­nom­ic insta­bil­i­ty, it offers a reset but­ton on unsus­tain­able finan­cial prac­tices. Of course, here I may be unpop­u­lar to my great read­ers, yet it is a real option on the table.

Third­ly, what about a bold move to restruc­ture our gov­er­nance? Reduc­ing the num­ber of coun­ties and cut­ting exces­sive and lux­u­ri­ous gov­ern­men­tal spend­ing, for instance, could make our pub­lic wage bill bud­get lean­er, much like prun­ing unnec­es­sary branch­es ensures a tree’s health.

Final­ly, when chal­lenges seem beyond human rem­e­dy, prayer can pro­vide solace and hope, guid­ing us through our eco­nom­ic dif­fi­cul­ties. I know this, too, is an unpop­u­lar view, but I believe in the pow­er of prayer, not as a sub­sti­tute for great plan­ning and exe­cu­tion but rather as the fuel that makes imple­men­ta­tion possible.

As we nav­i­gate the com­plex­i­ties of bud­gets and fis­cal poli­cies, we must focus on ensur­ing that every Kenyan can lead a green life, akin to every tree in a gar­den con­tribut­ing to the whole ecosys­tem. Although I am not a finan­cial expert but a ded­i­cat­ed tree grow­er, I am con­vinced that the prin­ci­ples of growth, sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and prun­ing are equal­ly applic­a­ble to our cur­rent eco­nom­ic challenge.

Let’s earnest­ly dis­cuss our eco­nom­ic strate­gies, rec­og­niz­ing that our deci­sions today will sculpt the health of our nation­al gar­den for the future. We must tread care­ful­ly with untest­ed meth­ods, as time lost can­not be reclaimed. As stew­ards of this land, we must dili­gent­ly cul­ti­vate our nation to ensure it flour­ish­es for com­ing gen­er­a­tions. Let’s be forthright—think green, act green.

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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