BY NAMULONGO PETER and John WERU,NAIROBI,15TH MARCH 2017-President Uhuru Kenyatta has given his second and final state of the nation address outlining some of the gains achieved under the Jubilee administration in the last four years.In the address that took slightly a bove one and a half hours before a joint parliamentary session ,President Kenyatta called on Kenyans not to let the upcoming elections divide them and instead honour the vision of the nation’s founding fathers.
He begun by defending the government efforts in implementing the constitution 2010 which has been a foundation in making possible all other achievements under his leadership.
.Unlike the previous state of the nation address which was characterized by shouting from the opposition members of parliament,Wednesday session was peaceful giving the president humble time to deliver his speech in a rather relaxed manner.
-He then caused furious stomping of feet, in approval, of his invitation to the legislators to join him on the inaugural Standard Gauge Railway train ride from Mombasa to Nairobi.
“In Taveta, banana farmers in Kimundia and Mboghoni can now get their produce to markets in Mombasa in under 4 hours as the Mwatate-Taveta Road nears completion. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a road that had been promised by 4 different Governments in the last 55 years but has only been delivered by one. The Jubilee Government.
In Kilifi, the construction of the 51 kilometre Mariakani-Bamba road means that the famous song Safari Ya Bamba ni Machero needs to be recomposed to Safari Ya Bamba ni Rero.”
The President also earned himself stomps of approval when he announced measures to one, improve co-ordination of functions between the two levels of government. “I have directed the Attorney General, in consultation with the Council of Governors, to review the scope and mandate of the Inter-Governmental Technical Relations Committee.”
The President pointed out that majority of the hospitals have been equipped with modern diagnostic facilities.
“ Ninety two hospitals across all counties have now been equipped with modern diagnostic equipment, through the innovative managed equipment service program,” he noted, “This is an improvement since only four referral hospitals had such equipment when they came into power in 2013.”
He stated that maternal care has also greatly improved with the number of mothers delivering under the care of skilled medical attendants rising to over 1.2 million by the end of 2016.
“Maternal deaths and infant mortality rates have fallen quickly, proof that the joint free maternity proramme between the National and County Governments works,” the President said. “The medical equipment scheme on which nearly every county has played a part has given Kenyans access to life-saving screenings for cancer and other diseases,” he said.
He said counties had prioritized primary health care, community facilities and also focused on eliminating infant mortality leading to a drop of up to 39 per cent in infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
The President noted that the number of people who have taken up the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has also risen with the number of Kenyans with access to outpatient medical care rising to from 3.8 m in 2013 to 5.8 m in 2017.
President Kenyatta attributed the improvement in health care to the support for devolution that has enabled the country, in partnership with county governments, to seek and implement projects, which have a real and positive impact on country residents
, he announced that his government was developing a framework on how funds and assets lost through corruption and recovered would be put to use. “Going forward we are creating a framework of how recovered funds will be used in a transparent and accountable manner.”
he emphasised the urgent need for the burgeoning wage bill to be brought under control and have fairness rule the day.
challenging parliamentarians to support an interim report by the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) seeking to review salaries of public and State officers , said the wage bill had grown to unsustainable proportions posing a major threat to the nation’s development agenda, calling for sobriety in the wage bill debate.
“Today, the public wage bill stands at Sh627 billion per year, amounting to 50pc of the total revenues collected by the Government. This staggering amount is used to pay the salaries and allowances of 700,000 public officers including those of us here today,” the President pointed out.
He warned that the huge spending on salaries of those working in the public sector could plunge the country into an economic downfall if care is not taken.
President kenyatta inspects a guard of honor at parliament buildings before giving the state of the nation address on 15th march 2017 /COURTESY/UPESINEWS
-According to President Kenyatta, 50 per cent of the country’s revenue go to less than two per cent of the nation’s population, straining infrastructural developments which remain vital to achieving a middle income economy status.
The situation, Kenyatta said has further been worsened by rampant industrial actions by trade unions seeking to have salaries of their members increased. Other than running the risk of expanding the already overstretched wage bill, the strikes also have impacted negatively on service delivery and the economy according to the Head of State.
“For the last two decades, there has been a spiraling of the wage bill fuelled by incessant strikes, go-slows and outright neglect of duties. It has denied our citizens crucial services, disrupted the normal functioning of our society, and adversely affected the economy.”
President Kenyatta said the SRC report outlining the Review of Remuneration and Benefits for State Officers for the period 2017-2022 is the only way to take the nation back to its development path.
He called upon the Parliament to honour the will of the people who voted for the Constitution of Kenya (2010) and by extension supporting the creation of the SRC by adopting the commission’s report saying he fully support their recommendations.
Ruling out fears that politicians would be forced to end their political careers broke, Kenyatta assured the legislators that the country had made significant gains in the betterment of the welfare of state workers since independence.
“As politicians we must accept that our ever increasing salaries and allowances have contributed to the unsustainable demands by other cadres within the public sector to increase their own remuneration at the expense of our people and the country’s development agenda,” he said.
Apart from reducing salaries of senior government officials, the recommendations by SRC will also improve wages of the lowest paid civil servants concentrated in the lowest cadres.
The review will also enable the state to offer better remunerations to medical professionals, teachers, members of disciplined forces and other groups of state workers whose salaries are deemed to be lower than the expected standards.