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By EDITORIAL
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Latest government statistics paint a rosy picture of the state of Kenya’s economy.

The country recorded 6.3 percent economic growth in the first six months of this year, the highest since 2013 and an impressive one.

The figures by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics look quite promising on paper.

But the question is, has that growth percolated down to the citizens? Where is it being felt? What are its practical manifestations? Is it real and sustainable?

Recording a growth of 6.3 percent is no mean achievement given the fact that the country has gone through a tumultuous socio-economic and political period in the recent past.

Indeed, this could be viewed as a signal that the country’s economy is resilient.

However, the growth figures look good on paper but seem unreal.

It is difficult to pinpoint in practical terms how the growth has benefited ordinary citizens. Consumer prices and the general cost of living continue to rise.

Nothing has improved in any meaningful way. Perhaps, it can be argued the effect of economic growth takes long to be felt but then there should be indications that things are getting better.

At least one area that can be cited is agriculture, where crop production rose due to relatively good rains for most months of the year compared to the previous seasons.

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Theoretically, growth in agriculture has a multiplier effect — cost of food goes down and that frees money for other expenditures and consumption, hence boosts other sectors of the economy.

It is difficult to ascertain that hypothetical proposition, especially at a time when the sector is facing serious challenges.

What is baffling is that the cost of consumer commodities and utilities like electricity and water have been rising.

Companies are facing drastic declines in profitability with many posting losses followed by subsequent job cuts.

Revenue collections remain depressed, which should not be the case if an economy is thriving.

Recent tax proposals that have set a new season of turmoil resulted from two things: reduced government incomes against huge expenditures and rising debt burden occasioned by reckless borrowing.

Both suggest an imbalance in the economy. As reported elsewhere in this newspaper, it is easy to understand why there are complaints from across the country over rising food prices.

Evidently, the new economic figures are raising more questions than answers.

They seem at odds with the reality on the ground, where the general feeling is that life is becoming unbearable and that things are bound to get worse as the full impact of the new tax regime, including VAT on fuels, comes into effect.

Numbers, they say, never lie but when they contradict the reality, their validity becomes questionable.



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