President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday presented to Parliament a comprehensive scorecard of his Government’s achievements on areas of national values, security and Kenya’s obligations to the international community.
The President, who addressed a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament, also urged all arms of government to work in tandem to achieve the ambitious objectives of his Big four Agenda.
The President said the country currently stands on a focused trajectory of prosperity, freedom and safety.
“It is quite clear that Kenya today is freer, safer, more prosperous, and held in higher regard than it has ever been”, the President told an attentive bicameral sitting of Parliament during the State of the Nation address.
The President is required by the Constitution to report to the nation, once every year, on all the measures taken and progress achieved in the realization of national values, international obligations and security.
The President talked at length about the Big Four Agenda, saying he will rely on the MPs to pass the requisite legislation upon which the programme depends.
He said the Big Four Agenda was conceptualized after discussions he held with Kenyans.
“Kenyans want their families kept safe from catastrophic bills for medical care; they want skilled jobs, especially in manufacturing; they want to be food secure, and they want dignified, affordable homes. The “Big Four” Agenda serves each of these,” said the President.
Turning to security, the President reported that Kenya is now safer and stronger than when he addressed the last joint sitting of Parliament on March 15, last year.
He said Kenya’s alliances with other nations are stronger and the country has become indispensable to the international community’s pursuit of stability and security.
“My Administration continues to treat its responsibility to protect Kenyans and their property from crime, terrorism, and other forms of insecurity as its core obligation,” said the President.
He said the last General Election was conducted in a more secure environment but added that the government was forced to respond firmly to deliberate disruptions of the electoral process, destruction of property and isolated attempts to block voting.
“In every case, the disciplined services did their duty. I commend all our disciplined services for their dedication,” he said.
The President said going forward, the Government will strengthen the capacity of the disciplined services to keep Kenya peaceful because, “without peace, our desire for a better Kenya will remain a mere wish”
The President announced the empowerment of the National Administration Service to supervise security operations and coordinate the work of national government in the counties and improve their engagement with county governments across the country.
President Kenyatta called on Kenyans to be patriotic and united, saying that a country that is not united opens itself to external security threats.
But he added that terrorism presents a constant threat and Kenyans cannot rest on their laurels.
President Kenyatta also called on agencies tasked with fighting graft to put extra effort in ensuring perpetrators are punished.
“And I expect the new officials now in office in prosecution and investigations to bring cases against the most powerful and privileged, to show Kenyans that none of us are above the law,”, said the President.
He called on the Legislature and Judiciary to play helpful roles in fighting corruption. He said judges must ensure that the corrupt do not misuse courts for protection.
“The private sector and members of the public have a big part to play in protecting whistleblowers and reporting all economic crimes they have knowledge of,” said the President.
Speaking on the economy, the President said Kenya’s economy has been resilient even in the face of last year’s prolonged drought and General Election.
“Our real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 4.9 percent in 2017, much higher than 3.6 percent for World Real GDP and 2.6 percent for sub-Saharan Africa real GDP,” said President Kenyatta adding that the 20 per cent growth in the tourism sector was very encouraging.
The President also addressed himself to the expansion of the infrastructure including the SGR, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, roads and power connectivity.
President Kenyatta gave an impressive scorecard on health saying the country has witnessed increased health facilities from 9,000 in 2013 to 11,000 in 2017. The NHIF coverage has also widened from a membership of 3.8 million Kenyans in 2013 to 7.2 people currently.
The government has also expanded the NHIF coverage to expectant mothers while access to anti-retroviral drugs to these mothers has significantly increased.
“Today, 94% of HIV-positive expectant mothers attending antenatal clinics access the ARVs; mother-to-child HIV transmission has consequently fallen sharply,” said President Kenyatta.