A proposal to widen the scope of exclusive access to public tenders by local businesses from Sh500 million to Sh20 billion is commendable because of the impact it will have on the economy.
By broadening the share of the public works tenders to be protected as a preserve of Kenyan-owned enterprises, the government will not only encourage local investors to put more money into the economy and grow jobs but also create an avenue for local enterprise to boost capacity, productivity and competitive edge.
That will positively impact job creation with more Kenyans expected to earn a living from the new opportunities, a big boost for an economy facing various internal and external shocks. It is expected that, as more local enterprises access business from the government, they will create more jobs for Kenyans as opposed to foreign firms, which preserve some for their own. The benefits will trickle down the entire economy.
It will also be a strong foundation for local companies to build their capacity to produce raw materials that other companies, mainly foreign, use while undertaking projects in the country. That will drive Kenya’s industrialisation with more opportunities opening up for local manufacturers and suppliers.
What the government needs to do is ensure that, with the new openings, strong systems are established within public procurement to ensure as many local enterprises as possible access the opportunities and to prevent it ending up as the preserve of a select few firms where procuring public entities have selfish interests in.
The government must also, with this new shift, up its game on settlement of payments to the local enterprises to avoid a further pile-up of pending bills, a situation that would negate the gains of the legal aspect.