Since Kenya reported its first case of Covid-19, the State has done a commendable job in shielding Kenyans from the health and economic shocks of this pandemic.
Like many other countries, these measures have invited criticism and praise in equal measure. Some have felt that they are inadequate, while others think the government has been over-bearing. We believe the government has done a fairly good job in trying to stop the disease in its tracks, while cushioning Kenyans against the negative economic effects. It is a delicate balancing act.
But this is not unique. Kenya has never been in short of wonderful initiatives, laws or ideas. The problem is how these initiatives have been lost in thickets of bureaucracy and corruption. The never-ending eating habit has made it difficult to execute life-changing programmes.
While President Uhuru Kenyatta has moved swiftly to cushion Kenyans, these dark forces threaten to thwart his noble initiatives. For some well-connected individuals, every new project is a potential cash-cow. For example, the State denies that some World Bank cash meant for Covid-19 related programmes were misappropriated, but it surely has to explain how tea and snacks cost the Ministry of Health Sh4 million.
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Also, as part of his Sh53.7 billion economic stimulus programme, the government will inject Sh3 billion as seed capital for the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme. This will help small businesses access cheap loans from banks. Unfortunately, the scheme might come into fruition in the next financial year starting July. But then, said Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge, three quarters of small businesses will have died.
There have been funds for youth, women and even the elderly. Unfortunately, these funds have also been turned into cash-cows.
National Treasury is preparing yet another initiative, the Kenya Development Bank, which will see the State lend to businesses at below market rates in what is aimed at spurring growth. But there are fears that this might also follow the other noble projects to the dustbin of corruption and wastage. Certainly, someone has to take responsibility.