NAIROBI, October 6 – President Mwai Kibaki inaugurated the expanded National Economic and Social Council on Monday, citing unemployment, poverty, inequality, national integration and social cohesion as the most fundamental issues that must be tackled urgently to create a prosperous nation. President Kibaki said that the successful performance of the country in the recently concluded Beijing Olympics was clear testimony that Kenya can become a globally competitive nation.
“What is required is to inculcate the culture of hard work amongst all our people, and of taking full advantage of our talents and abilities. This is what makes our athletes great. It is also what we need to do to become great and to move from a nation that produces beautiful plans to one that also succeeds in implementing them,” said the President.
He lauded the performance of the previous council, noting that the group had within its mandate helped to grow the economy to seven percent, and formulated Vision 2030 among other achievements.
“These include ideas on creation of a Metropolitan ministry for Nairobi, infrastructure bonds, value addition in agriculture and changing the face of Nairobi, amongst others,” the president said. “With this rich legacy in mind, I am pleased to note that we have a number of continuing members from the First Council. I believe that their presence in the current Council alongside the new members creates a rich mix of experience and new thinking. This will no doubt give further impetus to the efforts we are making to tackle the challenges facing this country.
The president further noted that the Second National Economic and Social Council is charged with the more difficult task of raising the economy’s performance further to eight percent by 2010 and 10 percent by 2012, thereby establishing a solid foundation for the realisation of Vision Twenty Thirty.
The President said: “I want to urge members of this Council to apply all your ingenuity and to use every intellectual resource in coming up with workable proposals of what we must do urgently to ensure a steady stream of local and international investment that will create mass wage and self-employment opportunities for our young people.”
With regard to poverty and inequality, the President noted that the two vices were not only closely related to unemployment but also contributed enormously to the challenges the country faced early in the year.
He said that despite the various initiatives implemented by the government to eradicate extreme poverty among the citizens, the country was still far from confidently asserting that all Kenyans had acquired the opportunity to lead decent lives.
The Head of State observed, “During the last five years, my Government implemented a variety of measures including, prudent economic management, support to our farmers, the youth and women as well as implementation of numerous roads, water supply and rural electrification projects. These initiatives have succeeded in making a significant attack on poverty, and reducing its impact from 56 to 46 percent in the last five years.”
The President advocated for continued increase in resources towards expansion and modernisation of the social and physical infrastructure throughout the country in order to make a considerable impact in poverty reduction which acts as a powerful divisive tool in the society.
“Indeed, the events that took place in our country early this year clearly indicated the need to quickly address the problems of poverty and inequality. We know from experiences throughout the world that poverty and inequality are powerful divisive factors,” said President Kibaki.
On national integration and social cohesion, the President called for change of attitude but called for accelerated rate of social and economic transformation of the country to create a feeling in every individual and every community that they had equal chance to economic and social opportunities.
He said, “I therefore urge the Council to once again deploy its formidable resources in recommending new strategies that will create prosperity and opportunities in every corner of the country. This is the surest way of promoting national integration and social cohesion.”
Meanwhile speaking at the same forum, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government Musalia Mudavadi announced that the Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) legal framework was ready for gazzetment.
‘The setting up of the Vision 2030 delivery unit is at an advanced stage and the fast tracking of projects under vision 2030 is also on course,” Mudavadi added.
These guidelines will be used to regulate the financing of Vision 2030 with the private sector expected to raise over 95 percent of the budget which stands at Sh1.5 trillion for the first Medium Term expenditure framework (MTEF).