•Top on the President’s stated agenda is to increase the budgetary allocation to the judiciary by an additional 3 billion shillings annually for the next five years.
•One of Kenya’s biggest headaches over the last couple of years has been food insecurity.
President William Ruto has his work cut out for him.
In his inaugural speech, he enumerated precisely what all Kenyans want and expect of his Government – food, decent healthcare, jobs for our young people and dignified livelihoods for every working Kenyan, irrespective of their hustle.
He gave attention to some of the most pressing issues our society is grappling with and proposed quite decent ways to deal with them that his administration is going to focus on for the next five years and probably beyond.
One of Kenya’s biggest headaches over the last couple of years has been food insecurity.
Too many times, we have witnessed many a countryman die from starvation.
Whereas the meteorological department indicates that there will be longer periods of drought, Kenya still has immense capacity to feed her population if the right interventions are put in place.
As the President enumerated, if we focused on making good quality seeds, fertilizer and other agricultural inputs (including extension services) affordable and available, we could increase food production enough to ensure we are food secure.
“We should remain conscious that we have all been elected to work together in ensuring that our children go to school, our people have food and decent healthcare, our youth have jobs and our workers have dignified livelihoods, for it is our strong belief that every hustle matters.”President William Ruto
To this end, he undertook to subsidize fertilizer prices so they could be affordable as a way of focusing on food production and not on the expensive and inefficient food subsidy.
It is expected that the County governments especially in the high yield areas of Eastern, Central and Western regions will work with the National Government to make sure that the inputs and free agricultural extension services are readily and easily accessible to every farmer in those regions.
Tied to food insecurity is drought.
Most parts of Kenya are already experiencing a drought with twenty counties already at several stages of severity – seven of which are in “alarm” stages and thirteen in “alert” stages that need immediate attention not to degenerate further.
The President made it clear that his government is aware of this situation and is determined to ensure that no county slips into the emergency phase and will coordinate with county governments to mobilize resources to reverse this situation.
The Judiciary is reported to have numerous stalled projects and minimal staff to be able to meet the challenges of dispensing timely justice to court users.
Top on The President’s stated agenda is to increase the budgetary allocation to the judiciary by an additional 3 billion shillings annually for the next five years.
In his words, “these resources will support the bottom-up scaling of justice by increasing the number of small claims courts from the current 25 to 100. We will also work with the Judiciary to build High Courts in the remaining 7 counties, magistrates courts in the remaining 123 sub-counties and support their ongoing digitization program.”
It is our hope that the infrastructural developments will enable the Judiciary to focus on their core responsibilities of dispensing Justice in a timely and fair manner - that the judiciary will deal with corrupt and lazy elements in their midst that either sell justice to the highest bidder or inordinately delay cases and issuance of judgments for years.
Another priority agenda listed by the President is the creation of a favourable business and enterprise environment; decriminalising livelihoods and supporting people in the informal sector to organize themselves into stable, viable and creditworthy business entities which forms the essence of the bottom-up economic model – creating a path for traders and entrepreneurs to build linkages, experience safety, and enjoy security.
The National government will work with county governments to create frameworks that provide secure trading places in our cities and towns.
The President also identified one area where every Kenyan feels the pinch - financial inclusion and access to credit as critical in addressing the fundamental factors of the cost of living, job creation and people’s well-being.
The pledge to drive down the cost of credit is one that would be welcome by every Kenyan.
Whereas Credit Reference Bureaus were hailed as a tool to enhance access to credit without financial institutions having to incur huge losses as a result of non-performing loans, they have instead created a practice of arbitrary, punitive and all-or-nothing blacklisting of borrowers, which denies borrowers credit thereby negating its original purpose altogether.
The President understands this challenge and has promised to work with Credit Reference Bureaus to create a new system of credit score rating that provides borrowers with an opportunity to manage their creditworthiness that will eliminate blacklisting.
On affordable, healthcare the President undertook to reform the National Health Insurance Fund to make it a social health insurance provider, improve procurement of medical supplies, deploy an integrated state-of-the-art health information system and, provide adequate human resources at all levels.
If all of these are done, we should be on a path to the provision of affordable and timely healthcare for all.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the running of county governments has been inordinate delays in disbursing the revenue share from the National Government.
On many occasions, delays in disbursements have been experienced for up to four months leading to delays in service provision due to constant labour-related disruptions like strikes and go-slows and delays in payment of suppliers.
The President has identified this as a priority point of intervention and has committed that his administration will take necessary measures to secure the timely disbursement of revenue allocations to county governments.
And finally, to deal with the huge challenge of youth unemployment, the President promises to roll out a social and affordable low-cost housing program, targeting an average of 250,000 units a year and which should create opportunities in the entire job market.
He promises to engage Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to provide the necessary skills to enable the Jua Kali industry to supply standardized products for this housing program.
The President has made a compelling case for solving Kenya’s problems. It is now time for implementation.