By Empraim Njega
SEVEN WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN REVIVE THE ECONOMY
There are many fundamental issues that are wrong with our economy at the moment. If I had the powers these are some of the measures I would institute;
1. Our economy is facing a crisis of over-regulation. Since Jubilee came into power parliament has passed endless contradictory laws which have turned doing business in this country into a near impossibility. Today there is hardly any business you can conduct without breaking some law somewhere. This has created a fertile ground for rent seeking and shaking down of businesses by government officials. I would review all these laws and make them business friendly or scrap them altogether
2. Nowadays government and the private sector have been working at cross purpose. During grand coalition days we had regular business and government roundtable meetings with the executive, judiciary and legislature. Nowadays government treats business owners as criminals rather than partners in development. I would restore that constant and structured communication between the private sector and government.
3. The country is operating without a national development plan. While government published Vision 2030 Medium Term Framework III after we raised hell over its late publication it is clear this was done as a mere formality and the document is unimplementable. This has exposed the country to useless and wasteful vendor driven projects that are gobbling money without spurring the economy. We need a clear national development plan and it is not the Big Four Agenda.
4. The process of formulating and implementing the budget has over the recent years turned into a fiscal absurdity. The office of the controller of budget should be made to function. No public funds should be released to any government agency without following the law. The country should also learn to stick to initial budget and end this culture of passing so many supplementary budgets during the financial year.
5. We need a totally independent Debt Management Authority. This office should have the powers to determine our optimal debt levels and enforce them without any reference to Treasury. This is the only way we can save ourselves from the ever ballooning public debt which will strangle the economy in coming months. MPs should also take their oversight duties seriously.
6. We need to ensure efficient markets and stronger consumer protection. We need to control the prices paid for agricultural produce by setting minimum prices based on research. We also need to strictly control commercial and domestic rents charged in the country based on research. Efficient markets should be allowed to determine prices and inefficient ones should be cured through controls that balance the interests of buyers and sellers without limiting economic output or performance.
7. We need to immediately lower the cost of doing business in this country. The rate at which we are losing our manufacturing competitiveness is alarming. If nothing is done we will end up a warehouse consumer economy. We need to lower the cost of transportation by lowering the taxes on fuel and opening up the SGR infrastructure to more operators in an Open Access model. We also need to lower the cost of electricity by retiring expensive and dirty diesel power. Further, need to lower the cost of living in order to lower our labour costs. This can be achieved by creating mass transit systems, improving on food security and lowering house rents.
In conclusion, our economy is facing very tough times. We need radical yet practical measures to return it on a real growth path. Time is running out fast. We need to act now.