By now, every Kenyan knows that the economy is not doing very well. Unfortunately, what was supposed to stimulate the economy is also not doing well. And a majority of Kenyans are feeling the pinch financially.
With only two years left to the end of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second and final term, his Big Four agenda appears to be struggling. This is worrying given that the President had staked his hopes of improving living conditions among Kenyans on these four pillars. In the process, the President would cement his legacy.
More worrying is that manufacturing, which is supposed to deal a blow to the youth unemployment menace by creating more than 800,000 new jobs by 2022, is underperforming rather than improving.
The government says it has scaled up reforms to encourage investment in the sector and heightened the fight against illicit trade and contrabands, which has resulted into the protection of genuine businesses and traders. But things have barely improved. Instead of the share of manufacturing as a fraction of gross domestic product (GDP) edging up towards 15 per cent, it has declined.
Two years after the government outlined its agenda of increasing value addition, manufacturing as a percentage of GDP stands at 7.6 per cent as of June 2019, which is lower than 7.9 per cent in the same period in 2018.
If there are no jobs being created in the manufacturing sector, then what is the logic of destroying the few in others by taxing them more? Is it that our companies do not have the capacity to supply local demand or is it that importers of plastics, paper, iron and steel, clothes and wood have found a way to evade taxes?
The hope of many Kenyans is that the Big Four agenda turns out well, everyone stands to gain in an environment where there are jobs, critical healthcare services are available and accessible, there is adequate and nutritious food and every Kenyan has a roof over their head.