, NEW YORK, Sep 20 – The newly enacted Constitution encapsulates the aspirations of Kenyans and lays a firm foundation for accelerated economic growth, President Mwai Kibaki has affirmed.
In his address during the High Level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Monday, at the UN Headquarters in New York City, President Kibaki noted that the new Constitution and Kenya’s economic blue print, Vision 2030 would ensure unprecedented economic prosperity.
The President further noted that the new governance structures at the county level commits 15 per cent of the national budget to the counties thus guaranteeing improved health and education services to citizens.
President Kibaki affirmed that channeling of such a huge chunk of national resources to the grassroots would not only create employment opportunities but also immensely reduce poverty levels at the grassroots.
Said the Head of State, “Moreover, the New Constitution has introduced a two-tier Government structure at national and devolved county levels, and commits 15 percent of the national budget to the counties up from the 2.5 percent previously available through the Constituency Development Fund.
During the occasion President Kibaki noted that the attainment of MDGs is an important vehicle towards addressing the problems that continue to afflict humanity.
President Kibaki said that with five years remaining to the target date of 2015, the High Plenary Session availed a platform for Governments and other stakeholders to chart out a plan of action that creates the necessary impetus for the attainment of all the MDGs.
The Head of State further thanked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for convening the forum so to renew the commitment and sustain momentum for the realization of the MDGs within the set deadline.
The President, moreover, reminded the international community that it dedicated itself to fight poverty, accelerate human development and to facilitate an effective integration of developing countries into the global economy.
“As leaders we must not fail the billions of citizens of the world who look upon us for leadership,” observed President Kibaki.
He said that these commitments had been reaffirmed in various international conferences, including the 2005 World Summit held in New York.
The President commented, “To ensure that the Millennium Development Goals are achieved globally, it is important that developed countries honour their pledges, including those made at the G8 meeting in July 2005 in Gleneagles.”
The Head of State expressed confidence that Kenya was making tremendous progress towards the realization of the MDGs adding that the new constitution would significantly bridge existing gaps.
He stated that the country had taken bold affirmative action in promoting gender equality and women empowerment across all sectors particularly with regard to enrollment in educational institutions and public appointments.
Said the President, “The New Constitution will significantly bridge the remaining gaps as it allocates at least 30 percent of all public appointments and representation in Parliament and Local Authorities to women.”
With regard to education, President Kibaki stated that the government had introduced free but compulsory primary education thus making tremendous progress towards achievement of Universal Edcuation.
The Head of State noted, “In 2003, my Government introduced Free and Compulsory Primary Education which covers eight years of universal education. Consequently, school enrollment increased from 5.9 million children in 2002 to 8.6 million children in 2009.”
In order to stem child mortality rates in the country, President Kibaki said that elaborate measures had been taken to reduce preventable diseases by increasing immunization coverage, expanding health facilities as well as hiring of more trained health personnel.
With the assistance of development the government had distributed free treated mosquito nets to an estimated 68 per cent of local households as a measure to combat malaria, President revealed.
“Child mortality rates are a basic indicator of a country’s socio-economic development and quality of life. We have, therefore, taken measures to reduce incidences of preventable diseases by among other things increasing immunization coverage to over 80 percent among children between 12 to 23 months,” noted the Head of State.
On HIV/Aids, the President noted that prevalence rates had reduced by about 50 per cent by 2009 due to vigorous campaigns that encouraged voluntary counseling and testing as well as provision of free anti-retroviral drugs.
Said the President, “In addition, drugs for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV are freely available in most public health facilities. Although we are faced with resource constraints, we are scaling up our anti-retroviral therapy coverage to keep those infected alive for as long as possible. On other diseases like T.B and Malaria, we have also made significant progress with better curative methods and more preventive measures.”
In recognition of Climate Change realities, President Kibaki said that the government had integrated measures to combat environmental degradation in its policies and plans to ensure appropriate adaption and mitigation measures.
He said, “Climate change, biodiversity loss, natural disasters and ecosystem degradation continue to undermine efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in developing countries. The frequency and intensity of unpredictable weather patterns results in floods, landslides, drought and famine is alarming.”
During the occasion, the Head of State advocated for global partnership in development as a catalyst for the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals.
He called for expedited negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda and conclusion of a multilateral trading system arrangement that accords actual benefits to developing countries.
President Kibaki said there was need to promote fair trade practices as well as transfer of appropriate technologies that would increase production and productivity in developing nations.
He noted that development has been inadequate thus not only hindering productive capacity, infrastructure and trade in poor countries but leading to diversion of resources from realization of MDGs to debt servicing.
The Head of State further noted that it was necessary to comprehensively deal with the debt burdens of developing nations through innovative and appropriate relief measures.
The President noted, “We must deal comprehensively with the debt burdens of developing countries through innovative and appropriate relief measures. I, therefore, propose that debt sustainability should be defined in terms of a country’s capacity to meet Millennium Development Goals by TWENTY FIFTEEN.”
In attendance were Cabinet Minister Moses Wetangula, Wycliffe Oparanya, Beth Mugo, Prof Sam Ongeri, Prof Helen Sambili and other senior government officials.