Raila: How to beat Covid-19 and revive the economy in five months

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Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has outlined a plan to beat Covid-19 in a plan that includes lifting restrictions and resuscitating the economy in five months.

Raila’s plan includes stimulus packages to cushion Kenyans against the effects of the pandemic and scaling up of Covid-19 vaccination, where some 15 million Kenyans should get the jab as soon as possible.

He said Kazi Mtaani should be expanded to give Kenyans purchasing power to support other sectors of the economy. “If it means Parliament should raise the debt ceiling to enable the government to borrow, so be it. We must spend big to buy vaccines and cushion Kenyans,” Raila said.

The ODM leader spoke during a luncheon organised to celebrate Idd Ul Adha in Mombasa. He also explained his economic agenda dubbed ‘Made in Kenya.”

He said his agenda seeks to transform skills in rural areas to enable communities to establish factories unlike the “bottom-up approach” which is based on dishing out tokens to the poor.

He said the government should spend big and roll out a massive stimulus package to kick start the economic growth weighed down by the pandemic.

He said unlike in March last year when the first case was detected, Kenyans were now aware of its danger and what to do to contain infections.

Raila said other nations that had locked down their economies to stem the virus have started to reopen after spending big on vaccines.

“We must bring massive economic programmes to inject more money into the economy so that we can recover. Some 15 million Kenyans should be vaccinated before the end of the year,” he said.

ODM leader Raila Odinga giving a speech to Muslim clerics at Badala hall in Mombasa county during Eid Ul- Adha celebrations. [Robert Menza, Standard]

The ODM leaders’ proposal comes at a time calls are mounting on the government to lift travel bans, night curfews, and other restrictions affecting businesses like bars.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho said it was time the state opened up the economy by lifting all Covid-19 restrictions. In March last year, Joho was the first to call for the lockdown.

“Time to lift the Covid-19 restrictions is now. Unlike last year, we know the enemy we are facing and what to do,” said Joho.

He petitioned Raila to discuss opening up the economy with President Uhuru Kenyatta. ”When we engage with the president, it will be important for us to let him know that this is time to open up the economy. We will ensure we remain safe from Covid-19,” Joho said.

Coast political leaders are expected to meet President Kenyatta today at State House, Mombasa. Reports indicate re-opening the economy is on the agenda.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said sectors like long-distance public service vehicles (PSV) were on the verge of winding up because they cannot service loans due to Covid-19 regulations.

He recently successfully petitioned the Ministry of Tourism to allow small-scale traders to re-open their business at the Mama Ngina Waterfront in Mombasa.

He said bus companies should be allowed to travel at night and carry passengers to their capacity saying most drivers have either been laid off or have not been paid for months.

He has tabled a motion in Parliament to discuss the fate of long-distance PSV operators and compel the state to cushion them before they collapse.

Raila said the US and the UK are now fully open and allowing their people to trade across freely.

Last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the scrapping of the final stages of their Covid-19 lockdown and abolished work from home guidelines.

”When we have a good part of the Kenyan population vaccinated and the economy is reopened fully, we can recover fully,” Raila said.

He gave the example of coconut farming at the Coast, which he said could turn around Kwale County’s economy.

“Using homegrown skills, these communities have produced coconut oil and coconut milk, just enough for consumption. With just little input on sharpening the traditional skills, we would have a locally owned factory producing coconut oil and coconut milk bearing the label made in Kenya or produce of Kwale fairly cheaply,” Raila tweeted.

He noted that currently 80 per cent coconut from Kwale is sold at a throwaway price to Tanzania, adding that with little value addition, farmers will get better returns.

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