By Ally Jamah
Nairobi, Kenya: The National Treasury has said that the country achieved slightly higher economic growth in the past year despite challenges arising from insecurity.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the economy grew at 5 per cent, up from 4.6 per cent the previous year, noting that the economy remained resilient in the face of insecurity, which is scaring away tourists and investors.
“Despite those growth figures, we still need to grow faster if we are to address the big challenge of unemployment and poverty in the country as well high income inequality among Kenyans,” he said.
He said the Government had stabilised the economy, including the exchange rate as well as interest rates, despite increasing complaints by Kenyans about high interest rates charged by commercial banks.
Mr Rotich said the Government has boosted its foreign exchange reserves from US$ 5 billion to US$ 6 billion in the past year, saying this figure was healthy enough to cushion the Government from financial shocks.
He said clearing of goods at the port of Mombasa will be much faster in the coming months through a single window programme in which different State agencies, including Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards and others, work together.
He said the Government would soon be raising billions of shillings from the international financial markets through a sovereign bond that will be launched in the coming months.
“This will help us raise more funding for development projects and enhance the rate at which the country can move forward. We cannot just rely on domestic borrowing,” he said.
Regarding the wage bill crisis, the CS said his ministry was finalising a policy, which will be implemented in collaboration with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
Renowned economist David Ndii recently accused the Government of misleading Kenyans on the wage bill, saying the figures being bandied by State officials were inaccurate.
He said the Sh500 billion wage bill being cited by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Treasury officials had no grounding in financial books.
“I am unable to find these figures anywhere in credible official data or reports, or anything approximating them. The Government wage bill on the paper for the current fiscal year is Sh285 billion, up from Sh274 billion in the last financial year,” said Dr Ndii.