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Uhuru defends manufacturing record in Big 4 agenda

In Summary

• Since he came into power in 2013, the Head of State has been focused on investing in infrastructure development.

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta
Image: FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said significant strides have been and will continue to be made in the manufacturing sector.

“We are moving in the right direction, results will not be instantaneous,” the President said in an interview with KTN on Tuesday evening.

Since he came into power in 2013, the Head of State has been focused on investing in infrastructure development, including roads, electricity and ICT and all other enablers to improve the country’s business environment and in turn boost the economy.

 

This has seen the country rise in World Bank's ease of doing business index, from position 129 seven years ago to position 61 in the global lender’s 2019 ranking.

“We are pushing, to bring ourselves to below the 50 mark in the near future,” Uhuru said.

While the cost of doing business has been improving, the case on the ground has suggested otherwise with a number of global firms with local operations opting out over high power costs.

The manufacturers include Yana Tyres manufacturer Sameer Africa Ltd, which shut down its Nairobi factory in 2016 as well as Cadbury Kenya and battery manufacturer Eveready which also closed down manufacturing plants in Nairobi in 2014.

Most of these firms are choosing to move to Egypt, Ethiopia and Rwanda which have been cited as Kenya’s main competitors.

“Yes some firms have left but we have almost three or four times the number of new companies setting up or expanding their businesses in Kenya,” Uhuru said.

He added that about 300 new companies have set up base in the country since he began his tenure adding that more were expected with the improved policies under the 2019/20 budget which had a key focus on industries.

 

One of the biggest benefits for the manufacturing sector is set to be the 30 per cent corporate tax power rebate which was set to take effect in February.

Treasury CS Henry Rotich reintroduced the tax cuts stating the Ministry of Energy in consultation with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperative Development had developed the framework to be used so that manufacturers can enjoy this incentive.

The move which was reintroduced by Treasury CS Henry Rotich in his budget reading is expected to reduce the cost of electricity for manufacturers by about 20 per cent and make Kenyan goods competitive in the region in comparison to imported low-cost merchandise.According to Uhuru, the manufacturing sector is a critical ingredient to the other three pillars under the Big Four agenda which will provide decent work for Kenyans and ensure every citizen can achieve the basics of life.

He said in a bid to ensure there is both local capacity and consumption, the state was making inroads through trade talks and policies encouraging the Buy Kenya, Build Kenya initiative.

“In a few weeks we will be launching one particular programme where already Sh850 million will go to our people in Dagoretti and other places for the manufacturing of doors, windows and things like that,” he said. “This will keep the cash flow within the economy.”