Economy growing only for the wealthy



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Donning their bespoke William Hunt designer suits, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and the country’s topmost statisticians drawn from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics took to KICC in gait to release the 2019 Economic Survey Report.

In his usual fashion of waxing lyrical about Kenya’s economy, the Mr Rotich pointed out that the country’s economic growth stood at 6.3 per cent. The 300-page document however raises more fundamental questions than answers.

Does the said economic growth have any bearing on the life of the common man who spends the day in the scorching sun while trying to eke out a living?

The truth of the matter is no. In an economy that is largely informal, how did the government’s statisticians document this growth owing to the fluidity and lack of permanence in the informal sector? The truth of the matter is that this is disputable.

While the government would have been glad to shove these statistics down our throats without expecting any form of criticism, it is worth noting that Kenyans are becoming more informed day by day.

But if the economy is indeed growing as succinctly expounded by the Treasury boss, then it is either growing on paper or in the benefit of a few obscenely affluent people.

We would have unquestionably believed if the Cabinet secretary would have boldly pointed out that the economic growth is in the pockets of those who can cunningly manipulate government processes and secure tenders irregularly, in the bank accounts of the convex-bellied public officials with disturbingly insatiable greed once they set their eyes on public coffers, or in the hands of government technocrats who receive colossal amounts of money in kickbacks for projects.

In a country rightfully described by J.M Kariuki as that of 40 billionaires and 40 million beggars, it would be foolhardy to believe that we are economically well off when people do not have money in their pockets for daily livelihoods, industries are closing down because of punitive tax regimes and small and medium scale enterprises cannot withstand the unbearable business environment.

Maize farmers in North Rift are bemoaning dwindling maize markets and prices. In Western and Nyanza, sugarcane farmers cannot stop lamenting about their delayed payments because the factories themselves have been brought down to their knees.

Even small-scale traders venturing in business are saddled with fear of being harassed for allegedly trading in substandard imported goods because the big men want such importation to be their exclusive business.

And with this in mind, it is increasingly becoming difficult for a common man in Kenya to find means to access even basic needs such as nutritious food, decent and hospitable shelter, quality healthcare and basic education.

If this is what growth in the economy means, then Treasury and KNBS officials deserve a pat on the back.


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