Prof. Alex Awiti a Political analyst, and Irungu Houghton Amnesty International Director, talks about key issues addressed in President Ruto’s inaugural speech.
The raft received is in a bid to boost the Kenyan falling economy and look into the high cost of living.
The two specifically praised President Ruto for making clear the plans to end the subsidy on fuel, saying that it is time Kenyans opt for other fuel alternatives such as geothermal and solar energy which he says are often overlooked by the majority of Kenyans.
“Ending the fuel subsidy is an absolutely important thing to do. We must pay the full cost of using fossil fuels that are polluting and as we do that figure out how to transition to renewable sources of energy, green energy. We have abandoned geothermal and solar and we need to think about that,” he said.
“Fuel, with government subsidies, is Ksh.159 per liter because global fuel prices have gone up. If he (President Ruto) removes the subsidy then it is going to be chaotic. It is exactly the opposite of easing the cost of living.”
Awiti likewise touched on President Ruto’s significant move to reduce the price of a 50kg bag of fertilizer from Ksh.6,500 to Ksh.3,500 noting that it is the right move in terms of reducing Kenya’s current agricultural production deficits.
“He talked about the deficit in terms of maize production where he reduced the price of fertilizer from 6,500 to 3,500 and his immediate focus has been tea because we have lost the growing season we are in the short growing season and it does not produce enough maize,” he said.
“We have a deficit of 10 million metric tonnes when you look at that it means in the immediate term there is going to be a tough time for Kenyan families.”
Prof. Awiti also talked highly of Ruto’s pledge to review the listing of borrowers on the Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBS) and the lifting of the Ksh.1 million caps on bank transactions, describing it as game-changing.
“I think the CRBs thing has been a nonsensical piece of legislation. The other thing is this ceiling on transactions, which I thought was silly. As the president pointed out, the idea is to stop illicit public money transfers; if we move to blockchain and distribute ledger technology you can trace every transaction in the economy so you don’t need this Ksh.1 million thing,” he said.
Awiti went on to commend President Ruto’s plans for successfully implementing affordable housing projects across the country while noting that changes need to be introduced to govern the country’s current building code.
“When it comes to housing, I think it opens up a whole bundle of commercial ripple effects in the economy. We have to change the building code since we use expensive bricks and that is why affordable housing is not attainable,” he said.
“We have a tonne of local material and we need to change how we build houses. Nobody is going to live for 100 years… why would we build houses that are going to last for two hundred years and then the quality of life will change when the cost of housing drops?” he posed.
His sentiments were shared by Irungu who commended the Head of State for pledging to work closely with the Judiciary, allocating an extra Ksh.3 billion to the arm of the government’s 2022/23 budget, and for appointing the six judges who were overlooked for promotion to the Court of Appeal by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“One of the important things was the independence of the judiciary and reaffirmation of the Judicial funds and the expansion by Ksh.3 billion for the judiciary and the expansion of the small people’s courts. The appointment of the six judges he promised and by the end of the day that had happened,” he said.
“The second area was around the independence of the police service and we will await to see whether there is a purge in NPS but the important thing was that President Ruto said the police service must never be used as an instrument against any citizen or political rival of the government.”
Irungu however urged President Ruto’s administration to deal with cases of corruption that have become widespread across State agencies and corporations.
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“I hold out that the Kenya Kwanza government will deal with issues of impunity and then we will see a resurgence in ethical values in line with our constitution,” he said.