Big Four, graft war tops Uhuru 2019 agenda

George Kebaso @Morarak

President Uhuru Kenyatta has set the government’s goals for 2019 as he delivered his New Year speech from State House, Mombasa.

The President also highlighted the significant milestones the country achieved last year, including the ongoing fight against corruption. The Head of State said government’s efforts to end divisive politics will be sustained to forge a united country.

“We demonstrated our greatness as a people when we came together, three months into 2018, to shake hands as leaders, as communities and as citizens,” said Uhuru in reference to his unity pact with Opposition leader Raila Odinga in March, 2018. The handshake quelled political temperatures emanating from tight presidential elections in 2017.

The president urged all leaders and citizens to focus on unity and embrace the Building Bridges initiative. I, therefore, urge every citizen, business enterprise, NGO, sacco, Church and Mosque to commit to take, in Year 2019, concrete and practical steps to solidify the foundation of our unity,” he appealed.

On the fight against corruption, Uhuru said the government would not relent and revealed plans to strengthen the Asset Recovery Agency to reclaim resources stolen by the corrupt.

“Investigative agencies will be expected to aggressively seek court orders to freeze and confiscate more assets such as bank accounts, vehicles, and real estate,” he said.

Upon suspects’ conviction, the assets will be transferred to the Criminal Asset Recovery Fund to finance projects and programmes  of benefit to Kenyans.

“Individuals charged with corruption offenses will not be allowed to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth as court proceedings are ongoing,” he said.

The Head of State said the government would be taking new steps to reform policies and public financial management systems to seal loopholes used by economic saboteurs to loot from Kenyans.

“In the past year, we have learnt as a people that we can work together to fight corruption…Building on this momentum, we will in 2019 continue to work hard to investigate and prosecute cases,” he said.

The President had good news for the business community, who he promised that the government would put in place practical measures to allow facilitate growth.

“We will explore policies across the range of government, including taxation, regulations, access to credit and measures to enable you to adopt modern technology so as to enhance your productivity and competitiveness,” said Uhuru.

“I want to let every entrepreneur and person running a small business know that they are the backbone of our economy. We have not done as much as we should do to support you.”

On the Big Four agenda, the President emphasised that the four pillars—affordable housing, affordable healthcare for all, food security, and manufacturing — would gain fresh impetus this year.

Free education

And on education, he confirmed the roll-out of free and compulsory primary and secondary education with 100 per cent transition would also commence this month.

“We shall ensure that every child completes secondary school. I expect the officials charged with this noble responsibility to work harder, and communicate better as we try to build up the leaders of tomorrow,” he said.

The Head of State also commended the multi-agency team that worked to deliver clean national examinations.  “I also call upon colleges and universities to offer courses that are carefully tailored to ensure that their graduates are employable in terms of skills.”

The President said the handshake with Raila and other leaders have played a huge role in uniting Kenyans.  “The resulting peace and calm is helping our economy return to stronger growth and has returned the focus to development for the sake of Kenyans,” he said.

Uhuru wished Kenyans a productive year. “Let 2019 be our year for national revival and renewal; a year when we water the seeds planted in the preceding years so that they may sprout and grow into a strong and towering tree; a tree whose fruits are bountiful and enjoyed by each and every Kenyan,” he concluded.

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