Members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) have called on the government to gradually and partially re-open the economy to preserve the economy and support health response.
Speaking during a virtual meeting with the government through the office of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee (NDICCC), chaired by Dr Fred Matiang’i, KEPSA Chief Executive Ms Carole Karuga reiterated that COVID-19 is the new normal and every effort must be made to ensure there is continued economic activity in the country while upholding measures to safeguard the health of its people.
“Coronavirus is the new global reality. We are working hard to protect our people and curb the spread whilst, getting the economy on a recovery path through ensuring both formal and informal sectors resume to normalcy,” Ms Carole Karuga said. “The Government and the private sector can develop a practical recovery strategy that balances health, economic, and societal needs respectively.
“That the public and private sectors should explore ways to deal with the reality of COVID-19. “This is a shared responsibility and a comprehensive recovery plan will be rolled out, which includes the eight-plan stimulus package recently announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as the Private Sector’s interventions that are geared towards keeping our economy going,” Dr Matiang’i said.
“All the proposals presented by KEPSA will be consolidated into a white paper of private sector protocols. As the government considers easing containment measures,” Dr Matiang’ i said. Adding that: “Where there are gaps, it is imperative to address them now. As the government is working on the 2020/2021 budget that will incorporate the CRP.”
Dr Matiang’i also confirmed that the National Treasury has handed over KES. 10 billion to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for the VAT Refund.
The CS, however, warned about a rush opening saying that other economies that have recently re-opened have witnessed a spike in infection rates.
KEPSA recommended a phased opening of the economy. Starting with the reduction of the curfew hours for non-essential services and sectors including retail sectors. This measure will allow for more economic activity and workforce productivity – particularly our micro, small and medium enterprises.
“The unprecedented scale of the pandemic means that the return to work will need to be gradual and phased. And heightened caution is necessary to prevent further waves of infection. The burden of COVID-19 prevention is not placed disproportionately on SMEs. Who are already struggling to stay in business,” KEPSA Chairman Nik Nesbitt said.
“Getting ahead of the coronavirus is not solely the responsibility of the government. The private sector has demonstrated that understanding. They have been agile to expand manufacturing capacity and shift supply chains to meet the increasing needs for the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),” Ms Karuga said.
The Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Ms Betty Maina presented a raft of proposed guidelines that businesses will have to adopt and enforce when they re-open their businesses.
“These standard operating procedures will be unique to every work environment. And will help us to balance safe operations of businesses and minimization of infections,” CS Maina said
KEPSA has outlined a set of working principles for recovery. These three principles include guidance on government’s plans to scenario plan; adopt a unique Kenyan strategy while leveraging global benchmarks and best practices; and a practical restart strategy that balances health, economic, and societal needs.