A Christmas wish-list for President Kenyatta
By Mark Bichachi
| December 25th 2019
It will be Utamaduni Day. A better fit than a colonial holiday whose purpose we did not know. Yet many will complain, for no reason, other than the fact that they just like to complain about everything. One would think the name Boxing Day has saved their lives in the past.
The idea behind Utamaduni Day is noble. It forces us to think about our shared identity and our diversity as a nation. It is a holiday that is worth celebrating, but the question remains how is it to be celebrated? Do we just stay home?
Still, Mr President, it is radical to change the name of a holiday but can we go a bit further?
Mr President, there is a lot that Kenya needs to get done. We have many good ideas but our implementation as a country is sub par at least, and below average at best. The collective dream of our nation is in shambles and many around you seem not to care.
In fact, you sound like a lone wolf howling at the moon while the foxes around you eat our chickens. So this Christmas I would like to ask, on behalf of my country-folk, for a few Christmas gifts while you explain to us what we should do tomorrow.
First, my dear president, could your Cabinet and party sing from one hymn book? Could they all agree on fighting corruption, for instance? The other day one or some leaders from your party claimed that those against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) were being targeted.
I wondered why these leaders had themselves not been arrested for speaking against BBI. You spoke against conflict of interest. It is bad enough, but the cacophony that comes out of the choir called Jubilee is worse.
We are tired of the government in power and in the opposition. We are even more tired that the glaring divisions are not on principle but born of selfish interests.
Your fight against corruption is noble and needs to be supported fully. Those who support the corrupt have no place in your army. Perhaps it is time you drew a line in the sand; we will support you.
Secondly Mr President, we humbly ask that you take a bold step to fix our economy. You see, most of us are either poor or one cancer-diagnosis away from it. We have no savings and poverty is a shadow that haunts us daily. To this end, I have a few suggestions.
First, can you reduce the taxes, rates and legal obligations we have to pay to survive in this country? Sir, small businesses have to pay VAT and corporate tax at 30 per cent, and they still need to pay thousands of shillings to the county for a business permit.
Before you are done you have to pay the National Hospital Insurance Fund, National Social Security Fund, National Environment Management Authority and the fire department.
After this, you have to pay exorbitant rents, high power bills and exorbitant internet connections that only work half the time. On top of that, the taxes on importing the technology we need lie closer to 100 per cent than 0 per cent. Considering all these, anyone who runs a business in Kenya is a superhero.
To add insult to injury, Mr President, most of our clients do not pay. Every businessman is constantly owed money, not just by county governments, but by bigger corporations that think a 60 to 90-day credit period is a walk in the park. Most businesses survive on credit whose interest rate in this country is daylight robbery. Defaulters pay such heavy fines that taking a bank loan is riskier than swimming with sharks.
Mr President, the ease of doing business is not just about how fast one can register a business. It is also how easy it is to run it. The truth is that, it is hard to run a small business in Kenya. Could you create a flat rate that all SMEs can pay to the government once a year that takes care of all regulatory requirements?
The fewer the licenses the less the corruption and the more likely we will all comply rather than hide from the government. Also, reduce the cost of energy, the internet and the technology we need to produce.
Sign a law that forces blue-chip companies to pay contractors, consultants, and SMEs in 30 days. Doing this will ensure greater volumes of trade at a faster rate and more money for the ever-hungry Kenya Revenue Authority.
If Kenyans were more prosperous would they be more united? We do not fight about our tribes when we do business and my local shop does not ask me, my tribe, when I need to buy salt. Our tribalism is purely rooted in fear-based politics that politicians deploy.
As we implement the BBI, could you please ask our politicians to think before they talk? Or even better, not to talk at all?
Mr President, I know I am asking you to make penguins fly, but it is worth the effort.
A patriotic Kenyan.
PS Merry Christmas one and all.
Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]
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