Strengthen institutions to fix development gaps – Wakiaga

By Soko Directory Team / November 1, 2017

Supreme Court

By Phylis Wakiaga

Good governance is hinged on processes and structures that promote accountability, rule of law, inclusivity, transparency, empowerment and broad-based participation.

For a political culture to be defined as progressive, these values must be found at the very core of its foundation.

Governance structures such as the Constitution embody individual and societal progress, which is why thriving democracies are those that enshrine the values and more importantly uphold them to the highest degree.

Consequently, democracies that normalise the values, translating them into national philosophies upon which institutions are built, efficiently manage their national resources reducing their poverty levels, increasing their national output and build more inclusive societies.

Essentially, good governance begets strong and independent institutions which support national social development and economic sustainability, and in turn, investment attraction.

In rethinking, reshaping and re-imagining our political trajectory during this critical juncture we, as a nation, ought to focus on strengthening the building blocks of democracy as a fundamental step towards establishing economic development and social stability.

We should identify the critical elements we need to ensure we not only attract but retain and effectively integrate private investment in the country to catalyse wealth creation and equal distribution of resources.

What is the role of the Constitution in actualising this? The constitutional setting of any economy has a direct impact on transforming national economic resources into output; that is, the more sound the constitutional environment, the more robust the GDP growth with tangible gains for all.

With this in mind, it is important to ensure constitutionally mandated institutions are designed as cornerstones to oversee the enactment of the rule of law towards effecting economic progress.

Our economic growth is fuelled by increased investments, both foreign and domestic. However, to effectively retain and integrate the investments for sustained economic gains, we must demonstrate our capability to establish a regulatory machinery that empowers institutions.

When national institutions charged with overseeing the rule of law are emboldened, it not only guarantees a stable and predictable macroeconomic environment which is a key attraction to investors, but also facilitates the coherence of institutional networks towards the formulation and implementation of progressive policies.

Often a comparative analysis between Kenya and other countries such as Singapore and Malaysia is made in relation to economic status in the 80s, and the usual question, ‘where did we go wrong?’ surfaces. In my opinion, it is what they ‘did right’ that should concern us, and use that as a guide to next steps in nation building.

They got the basics right. These included, building efficient public management systems, driving deeper democratisation through devolution, prioritising quality education for all, inculcating social norms that value equitable distribution and building capacity for national institutions.

The latter translated to political commitment in creating an enabling environment for independent civil service to function which in turn, guaranteed policy continuity especially with reference to industrial policies.

By entrenching these elements in their basic political economy, the countries increased competitiveness and have since been able to attract and integrate huge investments, guaranteeing sustainability. In our case, empowered and independent institutions will ensure political transactions which have economic implications for this country are steeped in the Constitution.

This means values such as accountability, transparency, and integrity will underpin processes, increasing efficiency and thereby boosting our competitiveness.

Our legal, political and economic frameworks should be anchored on the principles of the Constitution to drive inclusive economic growth and increase investor attraction. Supporting institutions that house these frameworks will enable them to steer inclusive development, seeing to it that the citizenry have access to fundamental amenities, reducing poverty and improving quality of life.

At the same time, their ability to guarantee a macroeconomic balance and policy continuity will encourage expansion of investments through industry dispersion, nurturing innovation and equality through productive employment.

The writer is the Kenya Association of Manufacturers chief executive officer

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