I am excited to meet members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance this morning. I see a number of old and familiar faces that we have done duty with in the past.
I also see new ones, which is testimony to the fact that the organization is growing and retaining past linkages at the same time.
My mission here is to share with you in brief my vision on the economy and the role of the private sector in the country as I see it. This is a subject very close to my heart.
So I want to begin by making four broad statements: One, as a politician seeking to be president of this country, I regard the private sector as the engine of the economic growth and job creation. Two; I believe the private sector and the government needs to work extremely closely if we are to progress. Three; I wish to see Kenya become a trading nation that manufactures and sells products a broad under the label of Made in Kenya and the private sector must lead that drive;
Four, believe we need to tackle corruption ruthlessly both in the private sector in government if we the sector is to deliver to the country.
Over, the years, Kenya has retained a vibrant and resilient private sector. Our private sector has sustained our economy and given us a competitive edge in the region even in our difficult times like the 1990s.
During the Grand Coalition Government, we had the Prime Minister’s Round Table with the Private Sector which created a mechanism for the much-needed collaboration with the public sector.
The Round Table enabled the two sectors to clear critical bottlenecks for the good of business and the nation.
My vision is to see the country empower the Private Sector and make the sector turn Kenya into a trading nation, identified with specific products and services in the African and global export trade market.
Exports, especially of finished products, will increase our revenues, create jobs, give us foreign currency reserves, boost our national saving and drive our international competitiveness.
I have some thoughts on what we will need to do to realize this goal of private sector-led export-oriented trade:
- Azimio Government will need to prioritize industrialization. It will be an industrialization policy that is export-minded and that allows the private sector to drive the export agenda.
- Azimio Government will need to support the private sector to lead a shift from exporting raw materials and agricultural produce and venture into industrial manufacturing with eyes on the international markets. In some 10 years, we can shift the country from light industry labor-intensive production to heavy and chemical industries producing and exporting things like iron and steel and IT products for local and global markets.
- Azimio Government will have to set up a body dedicated to long term planning and regular review meetings on our international trade and export agenda. As a government, we will not assume that the private sector is doing the planning. We will join you in doing the planning.
- As happened when I was Prime Minister, and I am glad some of you were there, we will have government-sponsored Monthly Trade Promotion meetings. The meetings will bring together highest-level government officials, key ministries, exporters, researchers, education institutions and trading companies for exchange of ideas, information and goals to improve co-ordination and mutual understanding between private and public sectors.
- We will unveil an award scheme for excellent exporter and help them to push up their share of African and world market and their contribution to the local and global economy.
- As a government, we will offer an aggressive support to the private sector through tax breaks, subsidized credit, state guarantees for private sector borrowing, tariff exemptions and preferential access to imported inputs required to produce export products.
- Azimio government will also pursue a deliberate policy of targeting and supporting industries with realistic chances of penetrating the global market based on prevailing situation in the country and the world.
- Business and trade will be part of our diplomacy. We will pursue an aggressive policy of helping Kenyan companies and consortiums win contracts in foreign markets. Our diplomacy will have to be business-minded in support of our private sector.
- We will also pay particular and close attention to helping small and medium sized companies overcome challenges in local and overseas markets and give them export support services and diplomacy interventions.
- We will revamp the Export Promotion Council, particularly its capacity to provide informational and institutional services to domestic producers and exporters.
- We will provide firms with economic diplomacy and support them with political and economic intelligence, introduction and advice to exploit opportunities in existing and new markets.
- Azimio Government will provide a level playing field between small and medium-size firms and the big corporations so that big corporations do not thrive while small ones, which could be our future multinationals, are left to struggle.
- A very important plan of support to the private sector is to have the Government invest in Education, Training, Research and Development, in addition to creating an efficient bureaucracy and strong financial systems in support of the private sector. Firms need continuous research to help them innovate, upgrade and compete and government has help it happen.
- We will particularly invest in Knowledge Economy to help invigorate the ICT Sector and make it the engine of growth and become a source of foreign exchange.
- Finally, we will maintain a constant and well-functioning co-ordination between public and private sectors, open economy orientation and policy that supports, not handicaps, private sectors and exporters.
These, ladies and gentlemen, are just but some of the thoughts we are working on perfecting to ensure the private sector is on the driving seat towards making Kenya a vibrant, industrial and manufacturing nation that can satisfy the local demands and export to the rest of the world.