Protracted electioneering hold the economy hostage

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By David Wanjala

The vibe in social, official and indeed all spheres for Kenyans is that everything is on hold until after elections. You will hear time and again, be it at place of work, your local pub or aboard public service vehicle to or from work a colleague or friend quip that his plans to finish off the house they have been building for the last four or so years, or to enroll for the masters degree programme, to buy a piece of land are on hold until after elections.

It could be said in jest, but trust you me, it is the reality and it reflects in every sector of the mainstream economy. Even the mechanic, leave alone car bazaar owner, is complaining. The real estate, tourism, financial sectors are all reeling with uncertainty and stagnation. The NSE has tumbled. The economy is on hold.

Already, the World Bank has decelerated Kenya’s GDP growth to 5.5%, from 2016’s forecast of 6.0%. The government had projected the economy would grow by 5.9% this year but already the first quarter growth was hardly 4.7%.

Development economist Anzetse Were agrees that the effects of the protracted electioneering in the short term are negative. She alludes to the expenditure on the elections putting it at $25.4 per person as opposed to $5.16 in Tanzania, $4 in Uganda and $1 in Rwanda. She also fears that the extra spending will likely pull money out of economically productive development spending and redirect it into economically unproductive recurrent expenditure.

On his part, Kosta Kioleoglou’s, a civil engineer, real estate valuer and columnist with this publication, worries are more on the uncertainty of the outcome of the election to the real estate sector. It will be well for the sector if all ends well, he says. “What is going to make the difference is if everything will end peacefully and without tension,” he says.

But probably the most affected of Kenya’s crucial economic sectors is tourism. With the anxiety generated from the Supreme Court orders for a fresh presidential election, the country’s once leading foreign exchange earner is going to remain in limbo as prospective guests put their planned visits on hold.

We have faith, however, that Kenya’s resilience that has seen her emerge from worse situations will suffice at the end, and come October 27 or thereabout, Kenya will reemerge stronger. We call upon those in positions of power and influence to always put the country first in all decisions they make.

God bless Kenya.