ODM leader calls for shift from materials export to manufacturing
ODM leader Raila Odinga has asked the government to support the private sector to shift from exporting raw materials and agricultural produce to industrial manufacturing with eyes on the international markets.
Raila in his latest statement on how to revive the economy said the government should set up a body dedicated to long-term planning and regular review meetings on the international trade or export fora.
“In some 15 years to come, we can shift the country from light industry labour-intensive production to heavy and chemical industries producing things like iron and steel and Information Technology products for local and global markets,” said Raila.
He recalled Kenya has over the decades retained a vibrant and resilient private sector that has sustained the economy and gave an edge over the competition in the region, adding that during the Grand Coalition Government, the Round Table with the private sector created a forum for the much-needed collaboration with the public sector.
Raila said the round table enabled the two sectors clear critical bottlenecks for the good of business and the nation.
“The government should empower the private sector to make Kenya a trading nation, identified with specific products and services on the African and global export trade market.
Increased exports will increase our revenues, create jobs, give us foreign currency reserves, boost our national saving and drive our international competitiveness.”
He further called on the government to continue investing in Education, Training, Research and Development, efficient bureaucracy and strong financial systems in support of the private sector, to invest in Knowledge Economy to help invigorate the ICT Sector and makes it an engine of growth and become a source of foreign exchange.
The former Prime Minister charged that the government should offer aggressive support to private sector through tax breaks, subsidized credit, state guarantees for private sector borrowing, tariff exemptions and preferential access to imported inputs required to produce exports.
According to Raila, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration should revamp the Export Promotion Council (EPC), particularly its capacity to provide informational and institutional services to domestic producers and exporters and to provide firms with economic diplomacy and support them through political and economic intelligence, introduction and advice to exploit opportunities in new markets.
He proposed that the government should be aggressive in helping Kenyan companies and consortia win contracts in foreign markets and to pay particular attention to helping small and medium sized companies overcome challenges in overseas markets; give them export support services and diplomacy interventions.
“The government should maintain constant and well-functioning coordination between public and private sectors, open economy orientation and policy that supports, not handicaps, private sectors and exporters.”
The African Union (AU) High Representative on Infrastructure explained that the government should pursue a deliberate policy of targeting industries with realistic chances of penetrating the global market.