Kenya private sector proposes gradual opening of economic activities

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Members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) have called on the government to gradually and partially re-open the economy to preserve the economy and support health response.  They were speaking during a virtual meeting with the government through the office of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee (NDICCC), chaired by CS Fred Matiang’i.

KEPSA Chief Executive Officer Ms. Carole Karuga reiterated that COVID-19 is the new normal and every effort must be made to ensure there is continued economic activity in the country while upholding measures to safeguard the health of its people.  “Coronavirus is the new global reality. We are working hard to protect our people and curb the spread whilst, getting the economy on a recovery path through ensuring both formal and informal sectors resume to normalcy,” Ms. Carole Karuga said. “The Government and the private sector can develop a practical recovery strategy that balances health, economic, and societal needs respectively.

KEPSA recommended a phased opening of the economy, starting with the reduction of the curfew hours for non-essential services and sectors including retail sectors. This measure according to them will allow for more economic activity and workforce productivity – particularly the micro, small and medium enterprises .

Other proposals they made are:

  • Re-opening government offices that are either closed or at limited capacity, especially the Land registry and the Judiciary to continue serving essential government services.
  • Review the curfew hours to begin at 9.00 p.m. and gradually review it as time goes, with eventual lifting of the curfew, as appropriate
  • Re-assess and review the inter-county travel ban to allow farmers to travel between counties to sell produce and livestock & allow technicians and managers to travel outside Nairobi/Mombasa to farms and factory sites.
  • Re-open livestock and produce markets that had been closed with clear appropriate protocols

On his part, Matiang’i said that the public and private sectors should explore ways to deal with the reality of COVID-19. 

“This is a shared responsibility and a comprehensive recovery plan will be rolled out, which includes the eight-plan stimulus package recently announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as the Private Sector’s interventions that are geared towards keeping our economy going,” CS Matiang’i said. 

The CS said all the proposals presented by KEPSA will be consolidated into a white paper of private sector protocols as government considers easing containment measures. Where there are gaps, he says it is imperative to address them now as the government is working on the 2020/2021 budget that will incorporate the CRP.

Matiang’i also confirmed that the National Treasury has handed over KES. 10 billion to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for the VAT Refund. The CS, however, warned about a rush opening saying that other economies that have recently re-opened have witnessed a spike in infection rates.

“The unprecedented scale of the pandemic means that the return to work will need to be gradual and phased, and heightened caution is necessary to prevent further waves of infection. It is also important to ensure that the burden of COVID-19 prevention is not placed disproportionately on SMEs, who are already struggling to stay in business,” KEPSA Chairman Nik Nesbitt said. 

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