H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta last week hosted the 5th Presidential Round Table at State House Nairobi. The meeting brought together the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, County governments and the Private Sector under the umbrella of KEPSA to discuss issues affecting the local business environment. The meeting also reviewed progress on key commitments made at the last Presidential Roundtable held on April 2, 2015.
The first agenda was on Kenya’s competitiveness where KEPSA Chief Executive Ms. Carole Kariuki highlighted key issues affecting the country’s competitiveness including perceptions on corruption, promotion of value addition and support for local manufacturing. The private sector highlighted adoption of ICT and telecommunication, development of energy infrastructure and connectivity to power, transport and infrastructure development and stronger economic diplomacy as some of the factors driving investor optimism towards Kenya.
Ms. Kariuki reiterated that the private sector was willing to play its role in fighting corruption through subscription to the Global Impact Business Code of Ethics. The private sector has proposed an Anti-Bribery Bill by introducing stiffer penalties on both private and public officials.
‘We however need the legal system to work and fast-track the speedy prosecution of corruption cases. It is time we considered special tribunals to prosecute corruption cases and ensure we send a clear message to those engaging in the vice. Corruption perception is costing Kenya its reputation and competitive edge’ Ms. Kariuki said.
President Kenyatta noted that the country had improved in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 index reflecting positive change in the implementation of business regulatory reforms. The president however noted that Kenya’s image has been negatively dented by increased perception of corruption and misappropriation of public funds which deterred investment.
The second agenda was on Entrepreneurship and SME development. KEPSA Governor Mr. Mike Macharia presented on viable models to accelerate the growth of SMEs though a maturity model based on value addition. Mr. Macharia observed the need to support the growth of companies from start-ups into SMEs and ultimately into larger companies by supporting the missing middle through the development of value chains. The private sector noted that the implementation of the Buy Kenya Build Kenya policy and the minimum 40% tender allocation to local companies will support the growth of local enterprise.
‘We need to leverage on a value chains to strengthen SMEs ensuring that bigger companies buy from smaller companies and ensure they pay them on a timely basis to avoid exploitation of SMEs by larger companies. We also need SME friendly regulations that nature nascent industries and allow them to incubate.’ Mr. Macharia said.
Deputy President William Ruto challenged the private sector to take initiative in developing new industries and developing value chains to ensure that growth of SMEs.
The Private Sector commended the government for the assenting into law the Companies Act, Insolvency Act and Business Services Registration Act. The three Acts are instrumental to the development of the entrepreneurial spirit by facilitating the set up of business entities.
The president also highlighted the important role played by devolved governments in service delivery and cautioned that the new levies introduced by counties are a hindrance to business and act as non-tariff barriers. The president asked the private sector to make a special presentation during the next forum with devolved governments to highlight the impact of county levies on the cost of doing business and the country’s competiveness.