, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – President Mwai Kibaki has called on leaders at all levels to desist from premature political campaigns that undermine the country’s economic and overall development agenda.
The President asked leaders to avoid unnecessary distractions that set the country on a permanent election mode and urged them to instead concentrate on issues of greater good to the nation.
Speaking during the farewell luncheon hosted in honour of the immediate former Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner-General Michael Waweru and other retired senior staff, President Kibaki asked leaders to direct their energies towards issue-oriented public discourse on the country’s future to resolve a myriad of pertinent issues affecting the lives of wananchi.
The Head of State impressed on the politicians campaigning for elective posts in the forthcoming general elections to wait for the appropriate time as prescribed in law.
Said the President, “The appropriate time for election campaigns is coming. Don’t be in a hurry. Above all let us be peaceful people who genuinely care for the greater good of our country”.
On revenue generation, President Kibaki said that the increased rate of development in the country was as a result of the improved amount of tax collected which he said had increased by more than three times.
President Kibaki underscored the need to be extra vigilant on tax evaders who collude with government officials to defraud the country of the much needed revenue.
The President at the same time encouraged the KRA management to identify more areas where service delivery can be improved and close tax evasion loopholes.
Thanking Kenyans for heeding the Government’s call to pay taxes, the President told tax evaders that their days were numbered because the law would finally catch up with them.
“All tax evaders will finally be netted by the Government to ensure they join other citizens in contributing towards the development of this country,” he said.
During the occasion, President Kibaki commended the retiring senior KRA management staff for their dedication and ability to guide the organisation towards the realisation of its core objectives.
The Head of State was impressed that under their guidance KRA had played a significant role in assisting the government to fund over 90 percent of its budget using internally generated resources.
“Increased revenues have enabled our nation to move ahead. Due to increased tax collection we are able to undertake projects that looked impossible just a few years ago.”
Among key achievements of increased revenue generation include free primary education, construction of over one thousand new health centres and tarmacking of hundreds of kilometres of vital roads in the country.
He highlighted that the revenues KRA raised had enabled the country move ahead well and without which vital milestones so far achieved would have been impossible.
President Kibaki stated, “We have devolved funds to the grassroots through the constituency development fund. Today we are preparing to transform our governance system through devolved governments at the county levels. This process will entail huge investments.”
Commending the KRA team for distinguished service to the nation, the Head of State termed the officers modern day national heroes and further urged Kenyans to demonstrate patriotism by paying their taxes.
“Over the period that Waweru served at the helm of the authority, annual revenue growth averaged about 16 percent. I wish to urge the new Commissioner-General and his team to maintain and even improve on this growth,” noted the President.
With regard to service delivery, the Head of State expressed government’s commitment to providing efficient and timely services.
He therefore emphasised the need for a collaborative approach among state agencies for effective service delivery and reminded public servants to remain responsive to citizens’ concerns at all times.
The President expressed satisfaction at the continued improvement of services in various border posts asserting that there was need for seamless flow of goods and other traffic across that borders.
President stated that the measures taken after the rapid results initiatives aimed at decongesting border posts must be sustained.
He remarked, “This has not only been done at Malaba border post which was the initial trouble spot, but has been proactively rolled out to other customs entry points including Busia, Isebania, Namanga and Kilindini, among others.”
The Head of State, however, noted that KRA was bound to face challenges as it sought to fulfill its vision under the country’s transformational framework, Vision 2030 since the organisation’s performance was of significant importance in meeting national development targets.
President Kibaki said, “VISION 2030, places the highest premium on the stability of the macroeconomic environment. One of the requirements is that we maintain a Revenue-to-GDP ratio of about 21 per cent. The performance of KRA will therefore be critical to meeting these targets.
This will require an average 10 per cent annual revenue growth over the period.”
The President, at the same, exhorted youth shun excessive drinking and engage in activities that would make them productive members of the society.
He noted with regret that drunkards not only abdicated their family responsibilities but could not make any meaningful contribution as members of the society.
Others who spoke include Finance Minister Njeru Githae, KRA Commissioner General Mr. John Njiraini, retired Commissioner General Michael Waweru and the KRA chairman Marsden Madoka.
Waweru called on the government to consider making KRA as the single revenue collector in the country to avoid duplication of services.
In attendance were the acting Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Francis Kimemia, Attorney General Prof. Githu Muigai and the Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Julius Karangi among other senior government officials.