The President has officially opened the 11th Parliament. During his speech the President restated many of the promises made during the course of his Presidential campaign, as well as those made to Kenyans during his inauguration speech.
There was no road map of how these promises will be achieved, probably because of time limitations, however the promises are significant and if kept would drastically change the lives of Kenyans for the better if kept. So here’s what to look out for:
Transforming Kenya in to a middle income country within the next generation: According to the World Bank Kenya is currently a low income country – the country’s gross national income stands at $1,025 or less. The government intends to within 25 years, a generation, transform the country into a middle income one (gross national income $1,026 – $4,035). While this may seem implausible it is not impossible. In 2010 Ghana and Zambia were upgraded from low income status to middle income status.
Prudent management of the public finances including the wage bill: Financially we are not doing great, the country’s debt is growing, the treasury recently asked the IMF for a waiver on payment of loans for the second time in the six months, the government wage bill is unsustainable, the cost of living is really high and yet MPs and Governors are still pushing for higher salaries.
In his speech the President spoke specifically to these issues including the need to keep the public wage ‘in check’ to reduce the recurrent expenditure. The President stated specifically that, “all arms of Government must set the example and lead the way in bringing this wage bill down”
Hopefully this promise includes a commitment to sticking to the remuneration guidelines for MPs, Governors and Senators.
An industrial revolution? The potential for one certainly exists we have a large more or less educated work force, geographically we are in a great position to be an export hub, regional integration gives us cheap access to markets within East Africa however infrastructure issues, electricity issues, corruption issues, and poor economic policies have prevented us having an industrial revolution.
In his speech the President highlighted the need to address the above stating, “We must establish a first class logistics hub, covering transport, roads, railways, waterways, Our overarching goal is the transformation of our economy, so that our exports compete across the world and drive the growth necessary to create jobs for our youth and lift 10 million of our brothers and sisters out of poverty by 2017.”
This included promises of the establishing a logistics hub, modernising agriculture, diversifying exports, creating new products, getting what we paid for procurement wise (see: BVR kits), creating a friendly investment/business environment, expanding markets and creating regional partnerships, investing more in people, and reducing the cost of living.
Transparency and Corruption: It’s no secret that we have serious issues with transparency the constitution goes some way to rectifying the transparency issue and has worked to make appointment and recruitment process for state officers more transparent. However the constitution is not self implementing document. Despite its provision on access to information on government processes remain as opaque as ever let’s take for instance tendering and procurement processes. Accountability and corruption have also been major issues, case in point though we have had several cases in which high level have been implicated there have been few prosecutions of said people.
The new President is his speech promised to “run an honest and transparent government, with public services that are open and accountable to the people who use” and to “work with the Judiciary in fast tracking and deepening the reforms that are in progress to secure access to justice for all Kenyans and promote a society where every person enjoys equal protection of the law.”
We’ll be watching.