News 2008


Kibaki sets out plans for the nation

Daily Nation

Publication Date: 3/7/2008

Government will table various Bills to enale the country get back on its feet

The following is an abridged version of a speech delivered by President Kibaki during the opening of Parliament on Thursday.

Mr. Speaker,

As a nation, we have come through a challenging two months since the December 27 General Election. The post-election violence that saw more than 1,000 people killed, over 300,000 displaced and billions of shillings worth of property burnt or looted shook our sense of nationhood.

In addition to the death toll, the post-election violence disrupted lives and destroyed farms, businesses and residential properties. We cannot watch our brothers and sisters endure such hardships.

My Government has set up a National Humanitarian Assistance Fund with an initial endowment of Sh1 billion to provide humanitarian assistance and resettle the displaced persons.

We have also established a new Directorate for Resettlement that will oversee the resettlement of the internally displaced persons. These institutions will assist internally displaced persons in farming areas to regain their livelihoods through provision of free seeds and other farming inputs.

We are also designing an emergency programme for economic reconstruction and restoration. The programme will mobilize resources locally and internationally to be used in repairing and reconstructing infrastructure that were badly damaged during the violence.

The recent crisis has caused me to reflect deeply on the half a century of my active participation in the management of our public affairs. During this time, I have come to appreciate and respect the resilience of our people and our country.

I have seen Kenya go through some very critical moments. Each time, our people have used the crisis as a crucial turning point from which they have come out more focused and determined to stay on course so as to realize our collective vision of a free, just and prosperous nation.

The events of the last two months have offered us an opportunity to look inwards and fully comprehend both the weaknesses and threats on one hand and strengths and opportunities we have as a nation.

Indeed, Kenyans will always prefer peace over conflict, prosperity over desolation, unity over discord, and justice over injustice.

This is why on February 28th, 2008, I and Honourable Raila Odinga accepted and signed the National Accord because our people had spoken clearly that they wanted one Kenya, in which all lived in peace, justice, and harmony.

Kenyans expected no less from either one of us, and the people have embraced the Accord with joy and renewed hope. We believe the Accord is the first step towards achieving a prosperous and stable future for all Kenyans. It opens a new chapter in the management of our national affairs.

I believe Honourable Members will agree that the Accord is a victory for all Kenyans, laying the foundation for peace and stability in our country. The successful implementation of the Accord will require goodwill, unity, good faith and integrity from this House and all our country’s leaders.

I urge honourable Members to ensure that all the necessary bills to implement the Accord and other social and economic reforms are dealt with promptly so that Kenya can be fully restored to, and even exceed its former glory.

In this regard, we will, as the Coalition Government, introduce four bills that should be accorded the highest priority, namely;

The National Accord and Reconciliation Bill,

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill,

The Establishment of Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission Bill,

and The Establishment of the Ethnic Relations Commission of Kenya Bill.

Kenya has witnessed some real and irreversible changes since the year 2003. In the political arena, Kenyans are now enjoying their freedoms of association and expression without fear.

As a people, we are now fully aware of our rights and freedoms to do whatever we want. At times, however, it is evident that we are yet to fully comprehend that real freedom and liberty also comes with the responsibility of ensuring that in enjoying our rights, we do not do harm to others.

We have made impressive gains in the social sector. We have seen primary school enrolment grow by over 2 million children because of free primary education.

Similarly, secondary school enrolment has almost doubled in the last five years because of a higher transition rate and the recent introduction of free secondary education.

Moreover, our country is more caring of the weak and vulnerable among us. We now have a programme that provides financial support to guardians of HIV/AIDS affected orphans, which will grow from 12,500 participating households to more than 30,000 this year.

Children under five, pregnant mothers and patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria continue to receive free treatment and drugs in all our public health facilities. In addition, our economy has consistently performed well, with the growth rate rising from 0.2 percent in 2002 to nearly 7 percent last year.

All sectors have performed well, with key sectors such as agriculture, transport, communications, tourism, manufacturing and trade all growing at an average of 5 to 10 percent annually in the last three years.

The informal sector has received policy attention with the passage of the Micro finance Act to support small and medium enterprises. We have also made progress in building of markets to enable street vendors do their business legally and without harassment.

We have, as a nation, received commendations for our achievements. These include commendations for our improved business environment from the World Bank, and for our public service reforms from the United Nations, among others.

Indeed, although we continue to face many challenges, we have a lot to celebrate about our country, and we have created a solid foundation on which to build its future.

In this respect, I am confident that we will soon overcome the setbacks we have suffered recently and our country will resume its upward path in all aspects of development once we begin to implement our coalition Government programme.

It is for this reason that we have put together a high level committee with five members each from both sides to synergise, harmonise and highlight priority policies and programmes proposed in the PNU, ODM and ODM-K manifestos into a joint policy and programme strategy.

This strategy will give priority to activities that positively affect the livelihoods and conditions of our poor people, while promoting equitable opportunities for development throughout the country. For instance, slum upgrading, the building of public markets in all urban areas and support for small businesses and smallholders will be accorded top priority.

The joint medium term strategy will build on the foundations of the successful Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation. And later this year, we expect to table a Sessional Paper on VISION TWENTY THIRTY.

VISION TWENTY THIRTY represents our collective commitment as Kenyans in transforming our country into a middle income economy that will be characterized by political stability, social justice and cohesion as well as equitable economic and social transformation.

I will now briefly outline our Government’s legislative and policy proposals in several key sectors. Let me begin by thanking the last Parliament for passing 17 bills into law last year.

These include, the Political Parties bill, the Constituency Development Fund Act, the Media Act and several labour sector laws. These laws are expected to improve our country’s social, political and economic environment.

However, the 10th Parliament faces an even more pressing agenda and cannot afford to conduct itself in the usual manner. I therefore, expect it to work twice as hard to achieve the ambitious legislative agenda that will be brought to this House.

I wish to point out that what I am proposing today as the Government’s legislative and policy agenda to this House will be augmented further in the coming weeks and months. This will be done through new bills and policies that will be developed from the synergy and harmonization of the manifestos of the three main parties to the coalition.

The past five years have seen the agriculture sector perform robustly from the policies implemented by my Government. We, therefore, expect it to recover quickly from the recent setbacks it has faced.

To improve market performance of several key commodities, we will propose the following legislative and policy agenda;

to amend the Coffee Act 2001 to provide direct sales of coffee,

to amend the Sugar Act 2001 to restructure the sugar industry,

to introduce bills and sessional papers covering the dairy, poultry and fishing industries, among others.

Another sector that has been performing extremely well is the tourism industry. Despite the recent downturn, the sector has enormous potential to recover and grow even more rapidly providing foreign exchange and creating employment opportunities.

To enable the sector perform even better, the Government will table three bills, namely, the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations Guidelines, the Tourism Bill and the Wildlife Bill.

As we undertake to deal decisively with poverty and inequitable development, my Government acknowledges the crucial role played by cooperatives in the production and marketing of produce as well as mobilizing savings and providing credit to the majority of Kenyans.

In this regard we will be tabling to this House a Sessional Paper on Cooperative Development Policy and a bill on Savings and Credit Cooperatives.

While we have done well in establishing the free primary and secondary education programmes, we do require legislation to entrench the reforms in the entire education sector within our country’s laws.

In this regard, my Government plans to introduce legislation that will regulate the role of non-public entities such as civil society and international education providers as well as propose the establishment of a Technical Industrial Vocation and Entrepreneurial Training Authority.

Moreover, we will not be able to achieve the goals of VISION TWENTY THIRTY without a tremendous effort in entrenching a culture of science, technology and innovation in our society. In this regard, my Government will present to the House several proposals, including:

a National Policy for Science Technology and Innovation,

a bill to upgrade the National Council of Science and Technology, to the National Commission of Science and Technology,

the creation of the National Science Foundation and National Innovation Agency.

In the health sector, my Government proposes to review the Public Health Act so as to consolidate 23 different Public health laws into a single Act of Parliament. We will also table to this House policy papers on Health Care Financing, Health Services Commission and Decentralised Funding of Health Facilities.

With regard to the youth of this country, my Government will propose amendments to the Armed Forces Act to enable youth trained under the National Youth Service be absorbed in the armed forces.

We will also table before the House a bill to provide for the creation of a National Youth Council. My Government will also re-table the Sessional Paper on Employment Policy for discussion in the House on the urgent and critical matter of providing enough jobs for our young people.

With regard to gender, we will continue to support the current policy of ensuring that 30 percent of public appointments and new employment opportunities are reserved for women.

We now have more Lady Members than at any time in the past, and I expect to see more gender friendly laws and policies emerge from the 10th Parliament in relation to its predecessors. With regard to the protection of the family and children, we propose amendments to the Children’s Act 2001 for better implementation.

The proper management and regulation of our country’s physical infrastructure is among the highest priorities of my Government. In this regard, we plan to introduce the Information Communication Technology Bill as a regulatory framework for broadcasting, electronic transactions and cyber crime.

In the Water sector, we will table the National Water Harvesting and Storage Policy to facilitate harnessing and storage of recurrent floodwaters as well as the National Shared Water Resources Policy to promote equitable development of water resources nationally.

We also expect to undertake the 2nd Mzima Springs project to ensure sufficient water supply to Mombasa and its surroundings. And to ensure that our roads network is better constructed and maintained, my Government will make fully operational the Urban, Rural and National Highways Authorities that were legislated under the Roads Act in the last Parliament.

We will further introduce a policy on the registration of contractors as well as the creation of a national construction company to build capacity among local contractors. We will also introduce legislation touching on the Protection of Road Reserves, Registration of Engineers and Architects as well as Quantity Surveyors.

With regard to local authorities, we propose to bring to the House new amendments to the Local Government Act to enable the direct election of mayors and county council chairmen. This reform is long overdue and this Parliament should deliberate on it as a matter of priority.

To ensure the proper planning and development of our urban areas as well as the proper enforcement of laws and by-laws for regulation of urban development, we will table in the House proposals to set up a National Urban and Metropolitan Areas Authority. To promote the development of affordable housing we will present the Housing Bill and a Landlord and Tenant Bill.

With regard to national security, my Government will continue to propose legislation and policies that safeguard our national security while also ensuring the protection of our people’s rights and freedoms. We propose to bring to the House several bills touching on national security.

We will table before the House the Organised Crimes Bill to contain the emergence of organized gangs and militias which bode ill for our society. We will also table the Anti-money Laundering Bill as well as introduce amendments to the Chief’s Act and Firearms Act.

I wish to propose that Members become fully involved in promoting and leading the district peace and reconciliation committees. This is necessary because the post-election violence saw communal relations stretched to breaking point.

Parliament, as the representative body of all Kenyans, must now rise to its historic responsibility and play its role fully in restoring peace, security as well as law and order in our beloved country.

Honourable Members, you must now become the ambassadors of peace and reconciliation in your constituencies, among your communities and throughout the country. Kenyans need to hear and be reassured by their political leaders that they can live, own property and do business in any part of the country without fear of prejudice, harassment or persecution.

In this regard, we propose to bring to the House a comprehensive policy and accompanying legislation that will ensure that the threat to our national security and social cohesion caused by negative ethnicity is neutralized for the well being of our country.

As I conclude my remarks, Mr. Speaker, allow me to reiterate the need to build and strengthen the capacity of honourable members to do their work. In this regard, I urge the Parliamentary Service Commission to ensure that members are provided with sufficient research and technical assistants as well as computer and office facilities during this session.

We have a chance to make the tenth parliament a meeting of minds and an avenue for a great competition of ideas that will reflect the highest levels of constructive debate in our nation’s history.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I wish the Honourable Members a highly productive Session in which the agenda of building a new Kenya overrides any other individual or factional agendas. This is what Kenyans are asking of the 10th Parliament, to undertake its historic task of building a new dispensation for a new Kenya.

With these remarks, Mr. Speaker, it is now my pleasure to declare the Second Session of the 10th Parliament officially open.

Thank You and God Bless You All.