By Ben Oduor
The 2017/18 budget has indicated plans to remedy the rising youth unemployment crisis in Kenya. Reading the budget in the National Assembly on Thursday, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary (CS) Henry Rotich said government had laid a foundation for business to thrive and expand, and its main focus was now to create more job opportunities for the youth.
“Mr. Speaker, while we celebrate these remarkable achievements, we should not be complacent. Having laid a firm foundation for businesses to thrive and expand, our focus is now to invest in accelerating job creation especially for the youth,” Mr. Rotich said, reiterating this was the reason the ministry settled on the theme, “Creating Jobs, Delivering a Better Life for All Kenyans” for the financial year’s budget.
To attain this goal, the CS said the budget emphasizes the need to support the sectors with a high potential for creating jobs for youth such as manufacturing and agriculture.
“Among the strategies to be employed will include supporting domestic production and value-chains, boosting exports, encouraging entrepreneurship, continuing with business climate reforms, completing on-going infrastructural programmes, modernizing agriculture and agro-processing.”
Additionally, government would also focus on ‘protecting the vulnerable and supporting emerging growth sectors’ to open up job opportunities. This, the CS confirmed, would be accomplished within sustainable public finances in order to continue securing macroeconomic stability.
The youth, who form the largest part of Kenya’s population, have been grappling with challenges in accessing job opportunities, with the Guardian indicating that 80 per cent of unemployed Kenyans are below 35 years old.
In his state of the nation address this month, President Uhuru Kenyatta said 2.3 million jobs had been created by his government in four years since 2013, attributing the job opportunities to the expansion and revival of industries, an attractive environment for investors and improved infrastructure.
The jobs, however, rate below par compared to the 1 million annual jobs Jubilee government promised in its manifesto while coming to power. And the treasury boss believes if the programs budgeted for in the next financial year are properly implemented, more job opportunities will be created.
“To further accelerate growth, create jobs and better the lives of Kenyans, I will be proposing tax incentives to; support growth and domestic production, reduce income inequality, promote job creation, improve tax administration and compliance and enhance social security and welfare,” he said, adding:
“In sum, Mr. Speaker, the 2017 budget is about building on the recent successes and delivering jobs and prosperity to Kenyans.”