Time to turn a corner and grow our economy

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Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya

By David Wanjala

2018 is almost here and most Kenyans, especially the business owners, will tell you that the journey through 2017 has not been easy. And after a protracted electioneering period that was marred with legal battles, violence, and tension, they will tell you that all they want is some sort of normalcy.

The year has not been an easy one for individuals who run businesses as ordinary as selling second hand wares and retail shops. The prospects of some of these small businesses are dimmed, as many of them are now not doing as well as they should. Truth be told, these once flourishing businesses got a thorough beating, especially the ones that fell victim to looters. Investors put a halt to their plans almost bringing all sectors of the mainstream economy to their knees as well. But how do you fix the mess without feeding the political rumour mills?

Businesses that feed the greater economy can only be transformed if, and only if, investment-worthy policies – and effective laws – are advanced. Things will only begin to make sense when we start thinking beyond politics and put more emphasis on the market place. And it is Kenyans who will eventually gain when efficient business policies are put in place. The current interest capping law, which is a major factor in the advancement of businesses –particularly SMEs, is among monetary policies that should be revisited.

According to a report by Central Bank of Kenya, the ratio of gross non-performing loans to gross loans increased from 9.5% in March 2017 to 9.9% in June 2017, thanks to unfavourable political environment. The report paints tiny players as unattractive from a perspective of being unable to service loans. True, it is bad news when banks fail to splash loans, but they also need to start looking for ways to intensify credit recovery in a tough economic environment.

It might take some time for some businesses to get back to their original strong state, but markets must now tilt away from politics in order to grow. Uniting and moving on is only way forward particularly now that justice has been served through the only legal way that our great Constitution provides for – courts of law. The next five years ought to inspire and create much positive change.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!