Members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) have called on the government to gradually and partially re-open the economy to preserve the economy and support health response.

Speaking during a virtual meeting with the government through the office of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee (NDICCC), chaired by Dr. Fred Matiang’i, KEPSA Chief Executive Carole Karuga reiterated that COVID-19 is the new normal and every effort must be made to ensure there is continued economic activity in the country while upholding measures to safeguard the health of its people.

“Coronavirus is the new global reality. We are working hard to protect our people and curb the spread whilst, getting the economy on a recovery path through ensuring both formal and informal sectors resume to normalcy,” Ms. Carole Karuga said. “The Government and the private sector can develop a practical recovery strategy that balances health, economic, and societal needs respectively.

On his part, Dr. Matiang’i said that the public and private sectors should explore ways to deal with the reality of COVID-19.

“This is a shared responsibility and a comprehensive recovery plan will be rolled out, which includes the eight-plan stimulus package recently announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as the Private Sector’s interventions that are geared towards keeping our economy going,” Dr. Matiang’i said.

Dr. Matiang’i also confirmed that the National Treasury has handed over KES. 10 billion to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for the VAT Refund. The CS, however, warned about a rush opening saying that other economies that have recently re-opened have witnessed a spike in infection rates.

KEPSA recommended a phased opening of the economy, starting with the reduction of the curfew hours for non-essential services and sectors including retail sectors. This measure will allow for more economic activity and workforce productivity – particularly our micro, small and medium enterprises.

The proposed restrictions to be eased, in order to promote economic activity, include:

  1. Re-open government offices that are either closed or at limited capacity, especially the Land registry and the Judiciary to continue serving essential government services to businesses
  2. Review the curfew hours to begin at 9.00 p.m. and gradually review it as time goes, with eventual lifting of the curfew, as appropriate
  3. Re-assess and review the inter-county travel ban to:

§  allow farmers to travel between counties to sell produce and livestock

§  allow technicians and managers to travel outside Nairobi/Mombasa to farms and factory sites.

§  allow plastic waste collected for recycling from other counties to be transported to the recycling facilities in Nairobi and Machakos

§  in the medium term, assuming disease remains in control, allow inter-county movement to activate domestic tourism

  1. Re-open livestock and produce markets that had been closed with clear appropriate protocols
  2. Classify recycling as part of essential business to stop pilling of garbage
  3. Re-open sporting events under controlled atmosphere and strict regulations
  4. On Education, re-open learning in schools, both public and private, to continue offering the accredited education curriculum, while adhering to the recommendations of the Education Covid19 Response Committee.

On her part, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Policy and Strategy at State House Dr. Ruth Kagia said that as we begin to think on how to move forward, there is a need to align the stimulus package to all the vulnerable segments including women-owned enterprises.  She also appealed to the private sector to accelerate the changes in the post-COVID-19 era.

The Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Ms. Betty Maina presented a raft of proposed guidelines that businesses will have to adopt and enforce when they re-open their businesses.

“These standard operating procedures will be unique to every work environment. And will help us to balance safe operations of businesses and minimization of infections,” CS Maina said.

With regards to when and how to reopen the economy, KEPSA has outlined a set of working principles for recovery. These three principles include guidance on government’s plans in order to scenario plan; adopt a unique Kenyan strategy while leveraging global benchmarks and best practices; and a practical restart strategy that balances health, economic, and societal needs.