President William Ruto Thursday delivered his second State of the Nation address that highlighted his bottom-up transformative agenda and achievements so far.
With Kenyans struggling under the weight of heavy taxation and rising cost of living, the president seized the opportunity to assure the country that better days are ahead and that the painful choices made would spur economic growth and promote shared prosperity.
While giving a progress update touching on all sectors, Ruto maintained that the country despite the enormous challenges was on the right path stating that it is only a matter of time before the full transformation is realised.
“The journey of transforming Kenya for the benefit of present and future generations is fully underway. Its positive effects have also begun to bear fruit across many sectors of national endeavour from the grassroots to the capital” he said.
“Despite enormous challenges and tremendous difficulties, we have made encouraging progress in a positive direction. This has not only vindicated our philosophy of inclusive transformation in the pursuit of shared prosperity, but it has also increased our confidence that we are on the right path and shall, in due course, deliver the transformation of our nation in full” he added.
The Head of State recounted his transformative plan which had identified three primary challenges—external shocks, fiscal distress, and structural imbalances—that heavily strained the economy, causing nationwide difficulty.
He explained that Kenya Kwanza focus was to stop and reverse the negative trends of runaway unemployment, yawning inequality, and widespread poverty which he said he is progressively addressing by generating all-inclusive effective solutions.
“The transformation of our economy is not only desirable and important; it is also necessary and urgent, and the people of Kenya have made this clear at every opportunity. Our duty as leaders is to listen keenly and comply with the people’s wishes. Kenyans want to proceed in a new direction and demand a new conversation that puts Mama Mboga’s security, well-being, interests, and aspirations at the front and center of all policy and governance discourse” he said.
He challenged Kenyans to face reality and retire the false comforts and illusory benefits of wasteful expenditure and counterproductive subsidies.
“We must admit that as a country, we had been living large and way beyond our means. The time has come, therefore, to retire the false comforts and illusory benefits of wasteful expenditure, and counterproductive subsidies on consumption by which we dug ourselves deeper into the hole of avoidable debt” he said.
While defending his policies, Ruto said he had no choice but to make hard and painful decisions to revive the economy.
“The new direction may not be easy, but it is ethical, responsible, prudent and, most importantly, necessary. We have had to take hard decisions and make painful choices because we owe it to Kenyans to do the right thing and confront facts as they are without flinching or equivocating’ he said.
The President’s focus was on the agricultural sector in which a number of interventions have been implemented as part of his administration’s plan to address the high cost of living.
Ruto said his government has progressively reduced the cost of fertiliser from KSh6,500 to KSh2,500, increased maize acreage under production by an extra 200,000 acres and enhanced maize production by an additional 18 million bags.
He went on to share the success stories of several farmers in different parts of the country he had spoken to about the fertiliser programme.
He revealed that adequate arrangements were in place, including investment in necessary infrastructure, to facilitate post-harvest management and prevent losses.
”17 certified warehouses, jointly managed by the National Cereals and Produce Board and private sector owners, with a combined capacity of 365,000 MT, or 4 million 90kg bags, have been prepared in the maize-growing areas,” he said adding that 100 driers had arrived in the country.
Other successes he outlined include the Hustler fund, affordable housing, educational and health reforms, security interventions, and Kenya’s lead role regionally and globally.
He concluded by celebrating Kenyans for their resilience pledging to further entrench constitutionalism, democracy and good governance for a prosperous Kenya.
“Kenya is a nation of brave, hard-working, enterprising people who are determined to prevail in the struggle for economic freedom and win the race for prosperity. We have laid a firm foundation for rapid development, and Kenya is no longer “on your marks”. The state of our Nation at this moment in time is Prepared and Ready to Go”.