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Give fragile economy a break, traders tell politicians

Zachary Ochuodho @zachuodho

 Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and industry (KNCCI) has told politicians to stop plunging the country into an election mood and instead focus on navigating the economy away from 2017 prolonged electioneering shocks.

The chamber urged the government to rebuild the economy in 2019 and 2020, and unite the country through various initiatives launched such as the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Premier Raila Odinga.

“The World Bank has projected Kenya’s economy to grow by 6.02 per cent this year from 5.475 in 2018. This positive outlook could be affected by the high-octane politics that is gaining momentum, especially on a referendum and the succession politics of 2022,” said KNCCI national chairman Kiprono Kittony.

Aftershocks of the 2017 elections have been manifested by profit warnings by listed companies; bear run at the Nairobi Securities Exchange; limited access to credit and slow payment for pending bills by Government agencies.

Kittony said economic growth and political stability were interconnected as unstable political environment may reduce investment and pace of economic development while poor economic performance may lead to government collapse and political unrest.

Political economy

“The situation in the country today indicates that there is need to do more work in the process of reforming the political economy and improving the quality of life of the people and communities.”

In recent days some politicians have expressed displeasure with the handshake between Uhuru and Raila with some MPs accusing the latter of working to wreck Jubilee Party ahead of the 2022 elections. But the President has warned he will not be blackmailed by those out to derail efforts by him and Raila to unite the country.

And a section of Central Kenya MPs have kicked up a storm by accusing the President of sidelining the region in development for regions which didn’t support him.

Also raising political temperatures is an attempt by former Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe to block Deputy President William Ruto from 2022 poll.“When we talk about political stability, we mean upholding the rule of law, strong institutions rather than powerful individuals, efficient bureaucracy, low corruption and investment enabling business environment,” he said.

Interest rates

The chamber also wants the government to reconsider its position on capping the bank interest rates as this has, among other policies, affected access to credit by small and medium enterprises and put in place mechanisms to ensure that inter-county trade is not disrupted.

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