The government has moved to approve the use of over Kes 40 billion to cushion needy households in urban areas from economic shocks following reduced activity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders in the executive have also announced pay cuts with proceeds to go towards face masks, medical supplies and specialised equipment, to support the most vulnerable through provision of water and food items and any other vital items. Some county governments have moved forward to set up kitties that will be used as a safety net during this tough period.
Additionally, to mitigate the effects of COVID19 to the Kenyan economy, the Government has proposed various tax reduction measures (effective from May 2020) including:
Reduction of Personal Income Tax top rate (PAYE) from 30% to 25%
100 % Tax Relief for persons earning up to Ksh. 24,000
Reduction of Resident Corporate Income Tax rate from 30% to 25%
Reduction of Turnover Tax rate for SMEs from 3% to 1%
Immediate reduction of VAT rate from 16% to 14%
Further to this, the Government has implemented the following measures:
Suspension of all listing for all persons including companies at Credit Reference Bureau (CRB)
Lowering of Central Bank Rate (CBR) to 7.2%
Lowering of Cash Reserve Ration (CRR) to 4.2%
Central Bank of Kenya to offer flexibility to banks on loans that were active as of March 2020 to maintain liquidity levels
Facilitating expedited payment of VAT Refunds by allocating an additional Ksh. 10B
Setting up a fund to which players in the Public and Private Sector are contributing in support of Government efforts
The COVID19 pandemic is unprecedented; to reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is important for employers and employees to rework plans and adapt regularly at tactical and operations level.
A digital economy also requires a strong analog enabling environment, it is important that all sectors (public, private, non-profit) recommend regulations that foster creativity, innovation and education that enables skills that allow workers, entrepreneurs, and public servants to seize digital opportunities.
Below are some of the ways the private sector is leading the fight against COVID19:
Guidlines and Standard Operating Procesures for employers and employees on precautionary measures as per the government’s recommendations.
Advocacy on hygiene, social distancing in public and private spaces. Manufacturers have also been mobilized to ramp up production of essential sanitary products such as sanitizers and handwash, soap, water tanks, masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).
They have kept supply chains going to ensure citizens have access to essential goods and food. This also includes ensuring that market prices do not soar due to hoarding or profiteering.
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
During disasters, those on the margins (women, children, the elderly, the poor, persons with disability) often bear the brunt of the adverse effects of disasters. For COVID19, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions that compromise their immunity are particularly at risk. Consequently, CSOs have had a concerted and coordinated effort to specifically target these groups.
Members of the SDG Kenya Forum, mainly CSOs, have provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as :face masks, soap, medical supplies, sanitizers and food/water rations in case of lock down to people in informal settlements - especially in Kilifi, Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu. Community social workers have been deployed to educate citizens on handwashing and physical distancing, others are providing much needed prevention and control, psychosocial support, among other ways to stop the spread of COVID19.
Alongside the private sector, CSOs have also contributed to policy frameworks such as the proposed Public Health (Prevention, Control and Suppression of COVID19) Rules, 2020; and have provided critical views (focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable) that have been shared with the National Emergency Response Committee on COVID19 - chaired by the Health Cabinet Secretary.
On April 2, 2020 – The World Bank Group Board of Directors approved today $50 million in immediate funding to support Kenya’s response to the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic under a new operation - the Kenya COVID -19 Emergency Response Project. The emergency funding will be vital for medical diagnostic services, surveillance and response, capacity building, quarantine, isolation and treatment centers, medical waste disposal, risk communications and community engagement as well as for strengthening of the country’s capacity to provide safe blood service.
Building on the U.S. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) long-standing global investments to control HIV, TB and malaria, eradicate polio, prepare for influenza and other pandemic diseases; has committed $6.6 million (705 million KES) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) activities in Kenya to support prevention, preparedness and response. These additional resources will be used for surveillance, laboratory supplies and strengthening, and surge staffing costs. Further, CDC has deployed nearly 50 Kenya-based technical experts to support Kenya to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic alongside Kenyan health officials at the national laboratory, county government offices, and the Public Health Emergency Operations Center.
The AfDB (African Development Bank) has unveiled a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to governments and the private sector, that seeks to enable regional member countries to mitigate impacts of the global pandemic. The funding will be distributed as follows:
$5.5 billion for sovereign operations in AfDB countries
$3.1 billion for regional operations for member countries of the African Development Fund
$1.35 billion for private sector operations.
On April 12, the UK announced a global support package of Sh26 billion to UK charities and international organisations to slow infections and save lives globally, including in Kenya. The total amount of UKaid committed to the global fight against Covid-19 is Sh97 billion, making the UK one of the biggest donors to the international response. An equally distributed vaccine will be the best defence.
Through TradeMark East Africa’s Safe Trade Emergency Facility, the UK and partners will support hygiene measures and technology to ensure supplies, including food and medicines, can flow through borders and ports.