‘Turbulence’ will soon be over, say Uhuru and Rotich

The government was over the weekend at pains to reassure the public that the problems facing the economy were temporary and will soon be resolved.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich likened the state of the economy to a plane going through turbulence and advised Kenyans to fasten their seatbelts.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking for the first time about the troubles with the economy, said everything was “okay” and the country was moving forward.

Speaking in Eldoret, Mr Rotich conceded that the economy was going through a rough period.

“I want to liken this economic situation to a plane at 40,000 metres high and there is turbulence. When you are faced with turbulence, you don’t jump, but the cabin crew will tell passengers to fasten their belts,” Mr Rotich told golfers and guests at the Eldoret Club on Saturday night. “That’s what is happening in our economy now.”

But the President had a more hopeful take on the situation, which has see the government unable to pay its bills, the shilling weaken and interest rates rise sharply.

He dismissed those who are critical of the government’s handling of the economy, saying the criticism would not deter Jubilee.

“There are many people out there who are making noise but we want to tell them Kenya is moving forward,” he said at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Ridgeways, Nairobi.

EUROBOND QUESTIONS

In an apparent reference to the leadership of the Opposition Cord, Mr Kenyatta asked the public to be wary of those who were “in the habit of talking” and instead focus on developing the country.

“They just talk and talk and we will let them talk because they have the freedom to do so. We are moving forward,” he said.

In Eldoret, Mr Rotich assured borrowers that the high interest rates charged by banks as a result of the crisis, were likely to come down.

“You saw the Treasury rates falling by 300 basis points. This is a good indicator that the next stage will be lending rates, which are greatly affecting mwananchi,” he said.

Last month, various banks informed borrowers of intention to increase interest rates from as low as 12.5 per cent to about 28 per cent.

Opposition and religious leaders and Chief Justice Willy Mutunga have in the recent past accused the government of running the economy into a crisis.

Cord leader Raila Odinga has claimed that “overspending, over-borrowing and over-stealing” were behind the crisis, while Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi Sunday challenged the President to call for fresh elections, saying Jubilee had failed to steer the economy, which has been shrinking.

The situation has been compounded by the mystery surrounding the way the government handled the Sh250 billion that it raised from the Eurobond that was floated on the Irish Stock Market, with the government claiming that the money was used to plug gaps in the Budget instead of financing infrastructure projects as initially intended.

FINANCIAL CRISIS

Whereas government officials insist that the money was spent as intended, Opposition leaders have demanded more satisfactory answers especially after the Controller of Budget, Ms Agnes Odhiambo, said last month that some of the money in offshore accounts was spent without her authority.

Mr Rotich, while seeking to allay the fears of Kenyans about the state of the economy, said that while it was true that the government was facing “turbulence”, it would soon come out of the financial crisis.

In Malindi, on Sunday, Deputy President William Ruto challenged the Opposition to come up with solutions instead of lamenting that Jubilee had failed in addressing key challenges facing Kenyans.

“To me, there is no difference between that person who is failing and the one lamenting over a failure. Because we are all leaders and serving the same country, we have to also contribute to solutions in addressing the challenges facing Kenyans,” he said.

In Siaya, Senator James Orengo faulted the ruling coalition, accusing it of eroding the economic gains made by the Grand Coalition government in which ODM, now in Opposition, was then a partner.

“The Grand Coalition had recorded an economic growth of 8.1 per cent yet the Jubilee administration has failed to reach the double digit it promised Kenyans and instead reduced it to less than 6.0 per cent,” said Mr Orengo.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION