PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

Billionaire Warren Buffet’s advice for Kenya

Not all of Jubilee policies are matters of strategic vision and planning for mammoth results in 2030.

In Summary

• Warren Buffet once said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

• While much has been written analysing and dissecting the Big Four agenda, the one main takeaway is that this set of policies will bear fruits in the future.

Business mogul Warren Buffett
Business mogul Warren Buffett
Image: GETTY IMAGES

Legendary American investor and the fourth richest person on earth Warren Buffet once said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

While the underlying idea here is not new, this expression drives home an important point in a unique way: All of your actions today are made possible by the good and smart actions of your forefathers.

While this is this true on the individual level, it rings even truer on the national level, where wise leaders take decisions to benefit the generations to come. Unfortunately, there are not many countries today that are fortunate to have such leaders.

 
 
 
 
 

In a world ruled by draconic realism, for most, such a leader remains a distant dream. As we all know, things that are too perfect to be true usually turn out to be, in fact, not true.

Luckily enough, there are enough regular people, and also leaders, who act according to these maxims most of the time.

This is why Kenya is one of Africa’s strongest economies and is a well-respected partner on the global scene on issues ranging from environmental protection to war on terrorism.

In the same vein, it is refreshing to see President Uhuru Kenyatta, act with the future in mind.

Buffet is famous for only investing in the long-term, and despises short-term investing as a strategy, where brokers often don’t know anything about the stock they buy.

Similarly, Uhuru’s policies are set out for profitable returns in the long run. While this can sometimes cause short-term challenges, it is the more sound long-term strategy.

This is also the way we should look at his policy decisions. While much has been written analysing and dissecting the Big Four, Uhuru’s flagship programmes that will ensure Kenya’s ascendance into the league of middle-income nations by 2030, the one main takeaway is that this set of policies will bear fruits in the future.

 
 

It is sound investing advice to withhold yourself from frivolous spending and to put the money towards the future instead.

Yet, not all of Jubilee policies are matters of strategic vision and planning for mammoth results in 2030. Some of the government actions are guided by the same thinking but have actual effects already in the here and now.

Take, for example, the harsh line Interior CS Fred Matiang’i took against foreigners who were in Kenya illegally. A group of 17 directors of gambling companies, most of them Europeans, were deported because they engaged in business not stated on their work permits. In short, this means they were not permitted to work in gambling, but fraudulently did so anyway.

There are several insights we can gain from this case. First, no one is above the law. Not even the rich and the powerful, including foreigners.

Second, while in general, every firm that is active in Kenya adds to our economy, this case is special.

Even though the state would profit in the short-term from the tax revenue of these firms, being strict on those gambling firms managed and owned by foreigners is the more forward-thinking step.

 
 
 

The CS estimates that all the profits made by these gambling firms on the backs of hard-working Kenyans are repatriated to the owners’ home countries in Europe, with little benefit to Kenya. This is a basic injustice, and it is good that Matiang’i stopped it.

It fits well in line with this assessment that the exponential growth that the gambling industry has benefited from in recent years has had no tangible effect on the Kenyan economy.

While the casinos’ and online betting application’s revenue grew in the past five years from Sh2 billion to Sh200 billion, it has not translated into more investments or development.

It is true that no country has ever developed its broader economy on the base of gambling. If we want to leave our children strong trees whose shade they can enjoy in 50 years’ time, we need to support President Kenyatta’s efforts to get rid of these weeds that only slurp all our nutriments away.

The writer is the Igembe North MP.


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