Need to improve public services

Nyayo House

People queue at the Department of Immigration Services passport control office at Nyayo House in Nairobi on May 21,  2018. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Kenyans are putting intense pressure on the national and county governments to improve their services while also containing their expenditure.

We were hard-working, faithful and disciplined citizens, but as the screaming headlines show in the local press, Kenyans are frustrated optimists. During the past 60 years of our independence, we have grown into a more united, democratic nation with a GDP of over $110 billion. As our athletes like Ferdinand Omanyala and Faith Kipyegon so admirably demonstrate in global competitions, Kenya is a remarkable country.

However, despite our past good records, many are not excited about the socio-economic situation. Why is this the case? The invisible elephant in the room about all the pains being felt by Kenyans point at the poor performance in the public sector.

The gaps between our present economic realities and past ideals, dreams of “stand for freedoms at any cost”, to quote Tom Mboya, is growing larger by the day. The country needs peace, love and unity but should also stand for freedom from ignorance, diseases, poverty and maladministration. According to the National Treasury, the annual cost of running the three arms of the State has reached $7 billion. Kenyans are asking.

What percentage of the potential benefits are they getting from such a huge expenditure? Most likely less than 50 per cent. What economic situation will the nation be by 2063? The three main sets available to the government to achieve its goals of national prosperity are the laws, taxes and the public sector. However, the famous public choice theory of economics informs the world that there are three maximising groups in any democratic nation.

The elected leaders who seek to maximise their votes, the civil servants who seek to maximise their salaries and the voters who seek to maximise their short-term utilities. The question is: Who is caring for the general and long-term, multiyear outlooks (MYO) of the nation?

The greatness of Kenya is what I call ‘the five catapults’, which could foster our economic growth and national security. The first catapult is the 2010 Constitution. The second are the national values and cultures.

The third catapult revolves around the public sector. Why is getting a passport for instance taking such a long time in Kenya? The fourth catapult is infrastructure, and the fifth is governmental support for education. Kenyans deserved the best.

Mr Khalid is a strategic management consultant