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We need to fix the basics for economic prosperity

By Phyllis Wakiaga
Wednesday, July 21st, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
Economic growth. Photo/Courtesy

Good governance is hinged on processes and structures that promote accountability, rule of law, inclusiveness, transparency, empowerment and broad-based participation. 

For a political culture to be defined as a progressive, these values must be found at the very core of its foundation.

Governance structures such as the Constitution embody individual and societal progress, which is why thriving democracies are those that uphold these values to the highest degree. 

Consequently, democracies that normalise these values translating them into national philosophies upon which institutions are built, are able to efficiently manage their national resources, reducing their poverty levels, and build more inclusive societies. 

In rethinking, reshaping and reimagining our political trajectory as a country during this critical juncture, we ought to focus on strengthening the building blocks of our democracy as a foremost fundamental step towards establishing economic development and social stability.

We should ask ourselves; what are the critical elements that we need ​to move forward, in order to ensure that we not only attract, but retain and effectively integrate private investment in the country, to catalyse wealth creation and equal distribution of resources? What is the role of the Constitution in actualising this? 

The constitutional setting of any economy has a direct impact on transforming national economic resources into output; that is, the more sound the constitutional environment, the more robust the Gross Domestic Product  growth with tangible gains for all. 

Our country’s economic growth is fueled by increased investments, both foreign and domestic.

However, to effectively retain and integrate these investments for sustained economic gains, we must demonstrate our capability to establish a regulatory machinery that empowers national institutions.

When national institutions charged with overseeing the rule of law are emboldened, it not only guarantees a stable and predictable macroeconomic environment, but also facilitates the coherence of institutional networks towards the formulation and implementation of progressive economic policies.

Many a times a comparative analysis between Kenya and countries such as Singapore and Malaysia is made in relation to our economic status in the 80s, and the usual question, ‘where did we go wrong?’ surfaces.

In my opinion, it is what they ‘did right’ that we need to focus on, and use that as a guide to next steps in nation building.

They got the basics right. These included; building efficient public management systems, driving deeper democratisation through devolution, prioritising quality education for every child, inculcating social norms that value equitable distribution and building capacity for national institutions. 

The latter translated to political commitment in creating an enabling environment for independent civil service which in turn, guaranteed policy continuity especially with reference to industrial policies. 

In our case, empowered and independent national institutions will ensure that political transactions which have economic implications are steeped in the Constitution.

This means that values such as accountability, transparency and integrity will underpin processes and operations, increasing efficiency thus boosting our competitiveness.

Our country’s legal, political and economic frameworks, should be anchored on the principles of the constitution to drive inclusive economic growth and increase investor attraction.

Supporting the constitutionally mandated institutions that house these frameworks will enable them to steer inclusive development.

At the same time, their ability to guarantee a macroeconomic balance and policy continuity will encourage expansion of investments through industry dispersion, spurring wealth creation, nurturing innovation and increasing equality through productive employment.   —The writer is CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers —[email protected]

Phyllis Wakiaga

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