Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday promised Kenyans that the economy would bounce back by Christmas Day, and warned the opposition against issuing reckless statements on the country’s fiscal position.
Mr Ruto said such talk was likely to destroy the country’s economic engine, and urged politicians to play politics on other issues, for the sake of political competition, but not on the economy.
“Some politicians have even claimed that the economy has collapsed. We need to be careful and stop the reckless talk on the economy, which is our bread and butter. This is a country shared by all of us and we have no spare so we cannot afford to fail,” he said.
The Opposition has taken advantage of the weak economy, widespread corruption and other challenges to hit at the government and score politically, but the Jubilee leadership has come out fighting, projecting calmness amid relentless attack and pressure.
On Saturday, Mr Ruto said the economy was stabilising, and predicted that by Christmas, next month, it would have fully recovered.
He said the country will have returned to the previous economic performance, before the onset of the current economic crisis.
He added that on Thursday the value of Treasury Bills fell by half, to 13 per cent, and hinted that towards the end of next month, interest rates charged by commercial banks on loans, and the value of the shilling against the dollar, were likely to stabilise.
The Deputy President, who was speaking at the “Great Talks” conference in Nairobi, whose theme was fuelling entrepreneurship, defended the country’s economic performance, saying the Kenyan currency had depreciated by a lower margin to the dollar, compared with other economies.
He also cited recent World Bank ranking of the country, placing it third on the ease of doing business, and 28th on access to credit, as indications that Jubilee leaders were “on top of things”.
The DP urged Kenyans to forget the “gossip” fuelled by politicians that the economy was doing badly.
IMPROVING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
Reference was also made to the Standard Gauge Railway, which the Deputy President promised would be completed by next year, when the operation between Mombasa and Nairobi is set to commence.
He said the railway was projected to reduce transport costs by 70 per cent and shorten the time taken to move goods between the coastal city and the capital by 50 per cent.
The government also projects to produce an additional 600 megawatts of energy every year, he said, adding that the cost of electricity had already come down by 25 per cent in the past two years.
The Deputy President, who was addressing entrepreneurs and those who hoped to start businesses, lit up the crowd by explaining his own humble beginnings, where he teamed up with friends on graduating from university to set up an insurance company.
He said the insurance firm is now one of the leading companies in the country, but he declined to name which one.
Mr Ruto also told the gathering how a car hire firm venture he mooted with a friend collapsed, with CMC Motors repossessing 20 vehicles which had been acquired on loan, as the firm had failed in repayment.
He said the government had also taken steps to improve the business environment by making it easier for business start-ups to thrive.
It had also relaxed bankruptcy rules, access to government procurement for local firms, and setting up of special economic zones to support infant businesses.