Closing down the economy due to the current surge in Covid-19 cases is out of the question, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has said.
Mr Yatani warned that if the measures put in place to address the spread of the contagious disease fail to work, Kenyans will have a rough time and will suffer more economic implications.
This came amid reports that health facilities across the country are increasingly getting overwhelmed by the rising number of coronavirus infections.
Mr Yatani on Tuesday said the economy had already contracted when cessation of movement and tax relief measures were announced by the government, which have starved the state of the much-needed revenue. He said shutting the economy was unimaginable.
“Total closure of the economy cannot work. It’s difficult. The people have to work and have to place food on the table. They cannot do that when the economy is shut,” CS Yatani said.
He noted that the economy has to be kept afloat and called on Kenyans to adhere to the precautions advised by the government at a personal level and proposed that the government should reduce activities considered to be quickening the spread of the disease.
“We propose to the government to strike a balance so that we reduce the spread of the disease but keep the economy running at the best of its capacity,” the CS said.
Noting that the government had already foregone about Sh172 billion through cessation of movement and tax relief measures put in place when the disease hit the country, the CS also warned that if the measures currently in place fail to work, the country stares at a bleak economic future.
“We just hope the coping mechanisms that we have put in place will enable us to walk through this. The situation can get worse and, therefore, it will call for tightening of belts at all levels. It’s not going to be business as usual even at the home level, even at the personal level you’ll readjust your own economy,” Mr Yatani said.
The CS spoke amid reports that the country recorded a 45 per cent increase in Covid-19 cases over the past month, as deaths rose by 42 per cent.
He was speaking during the signing of a Sh1.3 billion financing agreement between the government and TradeMark East Africa to support the construction of Busia Jumuiya Cross Border Market, Magongo road in Mombasa, Malaba One Stop Border Post and the road linking the Busia One Stop Border Post to Busia town.
“The four projects will be critical facilitators of trade, movement of people, goods and services at all times and will decongest the northern corridor to play its facilitative role in the region,” the CS stated.
“We are looking at both the rail and other facilitative services and that is why we have special economic zones around Athi River, Mlolongo and Naivasha. We are also looking at opening up Eldoret and Kisumu. The idea is to reduce as much traffic on the road as possible,” he said.