CUSHION KENYANS

State has invested in human capital during pandemic — Yatani

Cash transfers, VAT refunds and payment of pending bills done to ease harm

In Summary

• Yatani said massive interventions have been made to cushion Kenyans.

• For instance, he said, at the start of the pandemic, the government gave tax reliefs to businesses and people.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani during an interview at his office in Nairobi on May 15, 2019.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani during an interview at his office in Nairobi on May 15, 2019.
Image: ENOS TECHE

The government has deployed its Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy by investing in human capital to spur an inclusive, sustainable recovery.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukuru Yatani said the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted economic development, forcing the government to think outside the box.

He said the government took measures to minimise the adverse impact of the pandemic on people and businesses. He spoke during a ministerial conclave on human capital. Yatani said massive interventions have been made to cushion Kenyans.

For instance, he said, at the start of the pandemic, the government gave tax reliefs to businesses and people.

“The government also rolled out various monetary and social policy measures among them cash transfers, VAT refunds and payment of pending bills to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the CS said.

The Economic Stimulus Programme rolled out helped sustain economic activities, provided incomes to people and businesses and supported the vulnerable and the new urban vulnerable.

The programmes were meant to alleviate the suffering of close to 2.5 million Kenyans whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic as the poverty level increased by 6 per cent.

The new poor are more urban-based, with a higher level of education and are usually working in the service sector – rather than the agricultural sector,” Yatani said.

The government last year increased cash transfers to vulnerable children and those with disabilities as well as for older persons.

Yatani said the government is conceptualising a fund that to compensate workers who die or suffer disability from occupational diseases.

"Given Kenya’s large informal sector the government is looking to establish social security/pension fund for informal workers," Yattani said.

He said 2021 looks promising, with Kenya's domestic economy projected to grow at around 7.0 per cent.

Yatani said the growth outlook in 2021 and the medium term will be supported by a stable macroeconomic environment and the ongoing investments in strategic priorities of the government.

The priorities are under the Big Four Agenda of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare

We have also developed a Post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy which identifies critical areas of focus and once implemented, will re-position the economy on a steady and sustainable growth trajectory,” the CS said.

The CS said that the government will continue with its critical areas of interventions through the strategy.

The government has unveiled human capital improvement programmes including returning the “Kazi Mtaani” Programme.

To support the education sector, the government catered for washrooms and other sanitation needs including ensuring the supply of water, soap and sanitiser for both primary and secondary schools.

To support students from poor and vulnerable families, the government allocated resources for scholarships and grants for learners, additional resources were set aside for higher education loans for students in tertiary institutions.

The government is also focused on addressing significant needs in access to clean water aimed to address gaps in schools, informal settlements, hospitals, and institutions such as prisons.

The government upped its investments in clean water access to hospitals at all levels and schools.

In addition, there was a surge in support for sewerage projects in small towns, urban poor households as well as community water projects.

There has also been support for connecting counties to innovation hubs to digital hubs in primary and secondary schools.

Additional resources were set aside for internet-enabled learning in schools and for training teachers and officials on remote learning including in developing and deploying e-books and digitizing content.