NAIROBI,KENYA, NOVEMBER 21 — The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) is this Friday scheduled to hold the first Speaker’s Roundtable of the 12th Parliament with the Senate, where discussions will centre around the role of the counties in helping implement the Big Four agenda.
The two-day meeting will be held at the Leisure Lodge Beach Resort in Ukunda, Kwale County, and comes a month after a similar meeting with the National Assembly.
KEPSA Chief Executive Officer Carole Kariuki said the Speaker’s Roundtable is one of the engagement platforms the lobby group has established to help make it easier for companies to do business in Kenya.
“With devolution, KEPSA identified the counties as the most important administrative units where business is concerned, and the Senate plays an important part in ensuring that counties can become the frontiers of economic development and progress,” said Ms Kariuki.
The first Speaker’s Roundtable with the Senate was held in October 2013, setting the pace for subsequent annual meetings, where KEPSA and the House have been engaging on matters regarding devolution, ease of doing business and a conducive legislative environment.
“There are a lot of achievements we can count from the time we began these engagements with the Senate, chief of which is that we have a clear understanding of the way our institutions work,” Ms Kariuki added.
She said this understanding is among the reasons KEPSA regularly provides input to Bills that affect business and are considered crucial to the development of the private sector.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka described the inaugural meeting as testament to the significance of the relationship between KEPSA and the House he leads.
“This year’s Roundtable is crucial as it provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the milestones achieved during the term of the Senate of the 11th Parliament, take stock of where we are, and accelerate the attainment of sustainable development,” said Mr Lusaka.
He said that given that three of the Big Four Agenda are primarily functions of the devolved governments, it is crucial for the Senate to be involved in developing the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that will make their implementation possible.
“Considering the centrality of PPPs to the success of the Big Four, a discourse at the Speaker’s Roundtable on proposed amendments to the PPP Act of 2013 – to spur economic development in the counties – shall be interesting and informative for necessary action,” said Mr Lusaka.
The Speaker said that given the necessity of collaboration between the private sector and the county government’s, the roundtable would be important to create an interface between policy and implementation.
“We are alive to the benefits that Foreign Direct Investments have on our economy but we remain committed to seeing our private sector flourish; to create employment, improve quality and lower the cost of goods and services and provide a reliable income stream for Government through taxes,” he added.
The last Speaker’s Roundtable with the Senate was convened at the Pride Inn Beach Resort & Convention Centre in July 28th-30th, 2016, when KEPSA met with the current Senate during the Induction in September 2017.
KEPSA considers the reduction of the cost of doing business within and across counties important if Kenya is to meet the objective of increasing the contribution of manufacturing to the GDP to 15 per cent by 2022.
The government also needs to make it easy to access cheaper energy, curb the proliferation of illicit trade, enhance access to industrial inputs and machinery, improve access to affordable financing and improve the quality of infrastructure at the county level to reduce the cost of logistics.
Counties would also need to pay suppliers promptly.
To make it possible to attain food security, KEPSA has advocated for a reduction in the cost of production, enhance access to quality inputs, reduce post-harvest losses, ensure farmers access local markers and make credit affordable.
It is also important to ensure the farmers are paid in time and provide incentives to on-board youths into the agriculture sector.
KEPSA has urged the establishment of policies that support the inclusion of the private sector in the provision of healthcare by providing incentives and enhancing PPPs.
For housing, KEPSA has identified the provision of land at a good cost to investors, critical infrastructure, simplification of the process of property registration, transfer or obtaining construction approvals, supporting innovative local building technologies and lowering the cost of construction materials as some of the measures needed.