Preparing for change

We have successfully contained the spread of the novel coronavirus. Those who contracted the virus are recovering and our attention is now on preventing a community infection.

There are tremendous efforts put in place as we try to ensure the highest level of preparedness. Volunteers are trained, borders are guarded, and awareness is reaching the smallest community with community member too coming forward to participate. The number of people wanting to volunteer is overwhelmingly huge. We are on the right footing in our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the health of the economy, the response is even better. Besides the fiscal and monetary measures, His Majesty The King has rolled out a Nu 30 billion economic stimulus plan. Thousands whose means of livelihood were affected have  access to  His Majesty The King’s relief Kidu. The benefits of interest waiver and loan deferment is starting to trickle down to the affected.

The country’s development partners and well-wishers are intervening with support at a crucial time. Yesterday, the World Bank granted an interest-free loan of USD 40 million to help the country improve its fiscal policies and boost employment opportunities. This is beside the separate USD 5M that the Bank approved to support the Covid-19 response.

On the same day, the European Union announced that they earmarked EUR 12M to support our efforts in tackling the pandemic and mitigating the socioeconomic impact. The areas of where the funds will flow are clear. They cover priority areas like increasing food-self sufficiency, managing natural resources, improving service delivery, trade and investment,  and even civil service organisations.

The pandemic has jolted us and we are suddenly feeling our vulnerability. Covid-19 has made us think and we are relooking at our development priorities.  The generous support comes at a time when our policy makers are in the middle of charting out a 21st century economic road map, reprioritising the 12th Plan activities and questioning ourselves of our approach to development.

A lot will change post Covid-19. Governments and experts are seeing the pandemic as an opportunity. It is already changing the way we work, communicate, travel and many more.

It is time not only for rethinking but being bold to usher in new changes. While at the policy level, we talk of ambitious and grand plans, it boils down to how we receive and implement the changes. Today our biggest problem is implementation.

Food self-sufficiency was prioritised decades ago, we are still talking about it. Today, Covid-19 revealed we can grow most of our own food with the right intervention.

We may be a small economy, but we have advantages in being a hub for many innovations and investments.  The peaceful atmosphere, political stability and the clean air, for instance, attracted big investors. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic tangles affected service delivery to the extent that investors are discouraged. This is dragging down our ranking on the ease of doing business.

We talk of our smallness as our advantage, but we fail to make most of it as we protect our territory and love working in silos. We might have the grandest plan, but excessive bureaucracy is hampering its implementation.

If we are to learn from Covid-19 pandemic, we have to first change our mindset and think of cutting through the bureaucratic red tape.

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