Beyond the pomp and colour that comes with manifesto launches, a detailed scrutiny of the documents released by the four presidential candidates in the run-up to August 9 polls reveal the desire by the aspirants to turn around the economy which is emerging from one crisis to another.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living that has sent prices of essential commodities such as maize flour, fuel, and cooking oil on the higher side as inflation breached the medium term target to reach 7.9% in May-a five-year high-, voters are keen to ensure the documents are not just for braggadocio posture for the candidates but solutions to their current economic predicament.
“The reason why we are looking at these manifestos is that they are the promise to mwananchi and we want to ensure that the political class is aware that Kenya is not starting from scratch. A lot of good hard work has been done since 2008,” said Ken Mwige, Vision2030 Director.
The coming regime after the general election next month is also facing fiscal pressures attributed to the rising public debt stock which now stands at Ksh. 8.5 trillion as at April 2022 according to latest data by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
The Azimio La Umoja lead by Raila Odinga was the first to launch its manifesto dubbed Inawezekana Agenda followed by United Democratic Alliance (UDA) with the Plan, Roots Party of Kenya with the Freedom Manifesto and Agano Party with Badilisha.
“When you look at Vision2030, when you look at the manifestos, you can see the language of everyone is about the economic, social and economic pillars and of course the enablers. Vision 2030 became a good framework for people to build on and say where do we go? If you at the ideologies and the philosophies that all of them have brought through, it’s about economy, jobs and how do I do the social agenda, equitable and affordable services to people,” said Vimal Shah, BIDCO Chairman when he spoke to KBC Channel1.
Given the rising cost of living that the the Raila Odinga-Martha Karua lead coalition has pledged to address, the coalition is also targeting to achieve double digit economic growth rate with focus to boost manufacturing through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) riding on the “Made in Kenya” initiative.
The Azimio Inawezekana Agenda is also targeting create an enabling environment for climate-smart agriculture, livestock farming and blue economy and grow agriculture sector to account for 30pc of GDP, while harnessing ICT for digital economy and improve the ease of doing business to attract foreign and local investments.
Azimio has also pledged to control the inflation to manageable levels, promote interest rates that encourage savings and spur demand for credit in the private sector, maintain an exchange rate consistent with production-based and export-driven economy. Additionally, the coalition plans to undertake efficient revenue mobilization and ensure prudent spending.
On the other hand, Kenya Kwanza coalition has pledged to invest Ksh 500 billion over the next five years in small holder agriculture and the informal sector.
As interest accrued from current public debt expected to surpass Ksh 1 trillion, Kenya Kwanza has indicated in the Plan must be financed within a budget deficit target of 3pc by FY2026/27 by ensuring revenue projection does not exceed the average revenue growth in preceding three years and expenditure growth capped at 75pc of the revenue growth rate.
The Kenya Kwanza plan also seeks to ensure no new programmes are financed unless there are projects are either completed or closed.
The Dr William Ruto-Rigathi Gachagua led coalition has also pledged to allocate agriculture sector Ksh 250 billion over five years of which Kshs. 8.8 billion will be working capital for dairy farmers who will get Ksh 4000 per cow. This is besides empowering farmers to earn Ksh 50,000 per cow, reduce food import by 30pc and enhance agro-processing.
For those seeking the high road to new economic and social order, Prof. Geroge Wajackoyah in his 12-point manifesto has promised to legalize bhang farming with earnings and taxes expected to fund Kshs. Entire budget of Ksh 3.3 trillion.
Prof. Wajackoyah also intend to finance Kenya’s education budget through investment in snake farming where he estimates that one test-tube of snake poison could earn Kenya Ksh 600,000.
Additionally, Roots Party has promised to ensure export of dog meat, suspend the use of the Standard Gauge Railway and revive trucking industry and reduce working days to four.
With calls to increase allocations to counties, Agano Party lead by David Mwaure Waihiga targets to ensure the devolved units get at least 4pc of shareable revenue of which 10c will be allocated to village councils.
Agano Party is the only party that has pledge tax cuts on the Pay-As-You-Earn which the party plans to trim by half from the current 30pc.
The debt load which has seen more than Ksh 1 trillion spent on debt servicing, Waihiga says total loan repayments will be capped to Ksh 1 trillion to released at least Ksh 350 billion to key programme.
The Badilisha manifesto which means change has also pledged to move the Asset Recovery Agency to Presidency and make contracts of large projects such as SGR, Nairobi Expressway, Kisumu Port and MOombasa Port public.