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Make the ambitious Sh132b county economic recovery plan work for all

By Editorial | December 6th 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated lives and economies globally. And since the outbreak was reported in Kenya in March, over 87,249 positive case have been recorded with 1,506 fatalities as of yesterday. The coronavirus has seen dozens of companies and businesses shut down and nearly 2 million Kenyans pushed deeper into poverty.

The economy has taken a beating and tough times lay ahead for all Kenyans as we head into the festive period and then welcome the New Year. The economic projections do not look inspiring especially now that the tax relief given a few months ago will be taken away from January next year.

It was therefore welcome to have the national and county governments embarking on what they termed a plan to resuscitate rural economies. Together with development partners, the national and county governments have come up with an ambitious Sh132 billion social-economic recovery plan.    

While at it, the counties should factor in sectors which will yield fast results but can be sustainable even in post Covid-19 era. Now, counties do not majorly raise revenue away from levies or fees charged on permits and services like parking. Thus, county chiefs must move away from traditional sources of revenue other than what is indicated in the social economic recovery strategy report.

The governors could start by re-engineering agriculture, especially for the smallholders who contribute to the country’s food basket. It is encouraging to know they also want to net in micro-enterprises into their revenue stream. This should be done early enough.

They should also factor in how inter-county trade benefits their constituents and still be a source of revenue. Value-addition and online trading could be a game-changer.

Well, when the money is in the purse, how to spend it is equally important. Most counties lack proper structures and infrastructure which deny them much-needed returns. The governors could therefore embrace ICT, ease of doing business, proper roads and streamlining of their internal mechanisms to attract investors.

There is need for counties to have individuals apply, pay for different licences at one platform and get an immediate response. This can be done through tapping on IT. For reforms, it is time to have law changes, as some legislations are not beneficial in the modern world.

For example, one cannot grow food in large scale within the City of Nairobi but with an increasing population, the county needs a way of feeding its people. Why not change the law to allow farming on top of buildings like in other cities?

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