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State can do more on coronavirus fight

By Mbatau wa Ngai | March 31st 2020 at 13:00:00 GMT +0300

The government deserves commendation for coming up with monetary and fiscal packages to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

But this is not enough. Other jurisdictions such as the US and the European Union are doing much more than wheeling out traditional monetary and fiscal instruments to keep the economy humming during the pandemic and to avoid slipping into a recession.

These industrialised countries have all adopted a war-like stance in dealing with the health crisis that has morphed into an economic one.

They have torn up the fiscal rule book to counter the pandemic.

Analysts are unanimous that other countries that want to come out on top after the crisis have no choice but to adopt similar measures, albeit on a scale that matches the size of their economies.

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The usual excuse for inaction by developing countries that they do not have the required resources will simply not cut it this time because failure to take the cue from their industrialised counterparts will condemn them to continued poverty and misery.

Bankable projects

Fortunately for Kenya, it has deep but untapped, pockets in its cooperative movement, pension funds and insurance companies that could be used to make it an industrial giant not just in the region but across the continent.

For example, the country’s vibrant and dynamic cooperative movement—the strongest in Africa—controls about 43 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Savings and Credit Societies (Saccos) alone have mobilised over Sh230 billion from their members.

The pension industry in the country is worth over Sh1.2 trillion, while the country’s insurance industry has written gross premium of slightly over Sh117 billion.

When this is added to the money held in local banks and the sums that some Kenyans could put together provided they are offered bankable projects, it is clear the country is far richer than it thinks it is.

What the country lacks, however, are leaders with a bold and ambitious vision for the country. There is no reason why this situation should be allowed to continue for much longer.

After all, the country raised tens of billions of shillings in infrastructure bonds a few years ago. What then is stopping the government from issuing similar but well-structured industrial bonds to kick-start industrialisation in priority areas?

The individuals and corporates buying the bonds could be encouraged to convert the debt into shares.  

Covid 19 Time Series


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