Elections should not cause unease, economic uncertainty

Rachel Shebesh in the company of other Azimio agents shout at a man to get out of the tallying floor as the tension rises ahead of the announcement of the Presidential results at the 2022 General Election National Tallying centre, Bomas of Kenya. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Any nation’s development relies on its elected leaders. Leadership plays a key role in sustainable economic growth as it involves providing opportunities for growth and progressive developments.

Thus, elections are a key determinant of a country’s social, political and economic performance. Unfortunately, pre-poll campaigns focused on slogans, political rhetoric and unpractical measures that do not address the realities facing Kenyans.

This has been quite disheartening because political goodwill is essential in ensuring matters affecting citizens are resolved.

Add to this, the disruptions we have dealt with over the last two years that continue to strain our economy. This should not be the case every five years when Kenya heads to the ballot.

Historically, there has been a slowdown in business every election year and 2022 hasn’t been different. Currently, the business community - both local and foreign - is adopting a wait-and-see approach before embarking on new projects or expanding on existing ones.

The decision-making process has also stagnated until the new leadership is inaugurated. Even then, the restructuring in government that comes with any election will stall any major moves in the immediate term. The political pillar of Vision 2030 envisions a country with a democratic system that reflects the aspirations and expectations of its people.

As such, electoral mobilisation should centre around the aspirants’ manifestos, which should be proof of their mastery of challenges facing the country and how they seek to resolve them.

Heavy burden

Even beyond the elections, political aspirants must continue prioritising citizens’ needs.

This means an increased focus on the challenges facing us as a nation, which are becoming a heavy burden to bear; for instance, the high cost of living.

One of the ways of solving these challenges is to nurture our manufacturing sector and enhance its competitiveness and productivity.

Manufacturing is known for generating sustainable, well remunerating decent jobs, improving foreign exchange income, and driving the country’s overall wealth and well-being.

The Industrial Revolution and the East Asian Miracle have demonstrated the ability of manufacturing to grow incomes, reduce poverty and change the trajectory of nations.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers, through the Manufacturing Manifesto launched earlier this year, has contributed to the conversation on the economic choices that will face the new government.

Driven by patriotism and a long-term interest in the future and prosperity of Kenya, the manifesto gives a unique view of the issues borne out of years of experience in the market and engagement with stakeholders.

It presents policy proposals to enable the new administration to ensure Kenya’s economic and social goals are attained.

These include resolving macroeconomic issues facing the country, raising the export intensity of manufacturing, reducing the regulatory burden, raising investment for industry, providing public goods for manufacturing, pro-industry taxation structure among others

We remain optimistic that Kenya will be a better country after elections. We hope that we will be able to go back to business, keep our economy moving forward and build our nation.

 The writer is the acting CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers

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