What is the role of public policy in the survival of business start-ups? Business environment is a key contributor to start-up success, and public policy plays the biggest role in formulating such environment

You don’t have to be schooled in economics to notice that economic development does not always translate into socioeconomic well being of the people. The economy can grow by leaps and bounds.

It matters not whether all macroeconomic indicators are well balanced or whether we are topping the charts of economic prosperity if that principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state about a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs is missing.

Economic growth would only mean an ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor and instead of scaling down the income parity gaps, it only serves to inflate the gain coefficient. Public policy, at this point, is what we ought to check as the musical chord that is we straining in the economic orchestra.

Our major undoing is in the formulation of policies that cater for a given class of the society.

Fifty years into independence and trivial things such as necessary conditions of hygiene are still weighty issues to the nation! I am appalled that we still have to hire celebrities to come and remind us when and how to wash our hands. That in some parts of our great nation we still have to ask people to build toilets. Then something is seriously amiss. Or teaching the basics of life to a fifty-year-old state? In the 21st Century?

We missed the point somewhere along the way. I will dare ask what identity we had as people at independence. Unfortunately, that answer is far less sufficient. That tired song of blaming our misgivings on the colonialists is long worn out. The time that has flown past since independence until now is too long for that trick to work. Our leadership is part the problem; and so is the populace.

Seemingly, we live in a country of misplaced priorities.  Should some ill-fated shuttle diplomacy to grant immunity to sitting head of states for crimes against humanity take precedence? A possible plunge into anti-homosexuality discussions at the August House? Sponsoring selfish bills to muzzle the media?

Enacting sound policies that cater for the rights of every citizen is what this country desperately needs. Click To Tweet

The answer is a fat NO.  For a country crippled with so many problems both natural and man-created:   from battling high levels of unemployment, failed leadership, an under-performing economy, terror threats that stand to erode the image of the country as a peaceful haven in a sea of chaos, a highly-charged devolution drive with no clear directive or signs of getting it right anytime soon, crippling poverty and an ever-increasing income gap between the haves and the have-nots. The list goes on.

The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis staff. (Image h/t KIPPRA)

No. The enactment of sound policies that will cater for the rights of every citizen in the country is what this country desperately needs. Such systems should be sound not only in their formulation but also in their implementation.

Our major undoing is in the formulation of policies that cater for a given class of the society. When a part of the population walks around the streets feeling ‘less Kenyan’ than the others; then there is a problem. That becomes a recipe for disaster, creating a fertile ground for the perpetuation of the societal ills rarely mentioned. I keep asking why someone in the same developing country should earn more than half a million in basic salary, not liable for taxation, while another sleeps hungry every other single day. What is he doing to the economy that is so great?

The problem in this part of the world is that everybody has come to learn that public policy is a vague concept that exists in books only and as such, elicits little interest if any. It is skepticism that can be justified to some extent, what’s with the tons of beautiful blueprints commissioned over the years still lying on the shelves, waiting for their day of reckoning.

The way forward is to recognize that public policy is key to development; it is crucial, yet missing cog in the wheel of the socio-economic prosperity of a given country. It dictates what resources will be used and when who will get what and at what time. It dictates how hard poverty will bite and how well off the citizens will be. We cannot move ahead to a sound economic standing with poorly framed policies. If we are to shift the poverty baseline or provide lasting solutions to our socio-economic woes, the buck to prosperity stops with a comprehensive public policy.

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