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RAILA TO TAX ALL IDLE LAND

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY NZAU MUSAU
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Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressing resident of Luanda trading centre during his campaign tour in Vihiga County.pic\pmps

AN ODM government will tax idle land, deploy the military to the border and dismantle the monopoly in electricity sector if elected on March 4, 2013 election.

 An elaborate party manifesto endorsed by party delegates last Friday also promises to stop the transformation of technical, industrial and vocational education and training (TIVET) institutions into universities.

 The manifesto is anchored on six core areas of rule of law, devolution, wealth and job creation, equity and social protection, unity in the country and land reforms. The manifesto describes' the party's ideology as that of a social democrat.

 Titled “ODM: Deepening reforms for equity and social justice; our plan for government 2013-2017,” the manifesto promises to “fully implement” Chapter six of the constitution on leadership and integrity.

The party says it recognizes land as basis of livelihood, foundation of national economic development, definitive of country's history and potentially a major source of conflict.

 “The ODM government will tax idle land to discourage speculation and underutilization of land resources,” it says.

 The party says it will digitize all land records within a year time, address squatter problems in six months and de-emphasize the role of land as collateral in accessing credit.

 The party says it will enhance the powers of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) by granting it prosecutorial powers and delink the CID from the command of Inspector General of Police.

 The party also promises to abolish the current mean-score grading of school performances. The system, ODM argues, has been used as a means of “systematic drilling of children at the expense of lifelong learning.” It also promises to mount internet connection in all schools.

 On ICT, an ODM government is promising to enhance internet penetration from six per cent to 25 per cent “by ensuring that each county has affordable broadband connectivity through fibre optic cable by 2017.

 The manifesto says ODM will construct dams and water pans in rivers Nzoia, Yala, Athi, Itare and Tana as part of its plan to improve access to water and sanitation.

 “ODM will increase the level of competition in production of electricity, distribution and sale and encourage private investment with the aim of achieving financial sustainability through cost-based tariff regulation,” the manifesto says.

 It says an ODM government will develop a free trade zone in the port of Mombasa, create a tourism commission within six month of coming into power to advise government and to invest “at least 10 percent of GDP” on infrastructure development.

The party says it will re-distribute road infrastructure from high potential area to marginalized areas in order to open them up. It says an ODM government will establish a modern, electric high-speed railway system o link key towns to lower transport costs.

Further, the manifesto promises a light railway transport network for Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and the possibility of an underground rail system in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The party says it will establish a Coast Guard Service to secure maritime industry and to build stadias and sports facilities in every county. It says an ODM government would increase budgetary allocation to health-care but does not say to how much.

The party says it will pursue a vigorous Pan African agenda including free movement of people withing the continent “by reviewing Kenya's visa policies towards African citizens.” The party also promises to re-formulate Kenya's foreign policy.

 The party says it targets a minimum GDP growth of 10 per cent for the next ten years and that it will establish an investment criteria centering on job creation, foreign exchange, local inputs and technology transfer.

It is not clear from the manifesto how the party proposes to heal and reconcile the country as it is silent on how it intends to deal with the issues addressed by the near moribund Truth, Justice and Reconciliation commission.

 Raila, who is the party's presidential candidate says job creation is a priority. His government will encourage and give incentives to banks to finance industrialization.

He also promises to restructure the Kenya Industrial Estates into a Kenya Industrial and Enterprise Development Agency whose objective is to develop industry incubation centres in each county, to impart specialized skills to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The party is promising compensation for carbon pricing through cash transfers to promote green energy if taxation permits. It will also introduce a “polluter pays principle” where polluters will pay heavily for their pollution.

The manifesto proposes to strengthen the regulatory capacity of Central Bank to manage runaway interest rates, build three international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lokichoggio and upgrade airstrips in all the counties.