“We have kept the promise”, President Uhuru Kenyatta maintained yesterday during his State Of The Nation address in parliament.
Uhuru’s 1 hr, 17 minutes speech centered more on defending his government against accusations from the opposition that his administration had not done delivered much to Kenyans.
While some legislators, mostly jubilee MPs, gave the president a standing ovation occasionally, others could be seen shaking their heads and waving their hands in consternation to his remarks.
Opposition members termed the address as a PR tool, well-oiled to salvage the credibility of the jubilee government.
Pay Cut for Public Officers
Perhaps the “take away” remark in Uhuru’s speech was the announcement of a pay cut for public officers starting August. He revealed that two per cent of Kenyans consumes 50% of the revenues collected by the government.
“Today, the public wage bill stands at Kshs.627 billion per year, amounting to 50% of the total revenues collected by the Government,” Uhuru said.
“Earlier today, I received from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission an interim report outlining the Review of Remuneration and Benefits for State Officers for the period 2017-2022.
This report recommends, amongst other measures, a rationalization of the salaries and allowances paid to senior state officers, public servants, elected officials from MCA all the way to the President. That will result in a reduction in salaries and allowances for those elected in August this year. As your President, and as a Kenyan, I fully support the recommendations of the SRC and I call upon all of us to adopt these recommendations.
The SRC recommendations help to contain the overall wage bill. They will allow SRC the leeway to review the salaries of all public servants at National and County levels, with a view to improving the terms of those in lowest cadres.
These recommendations will allow us to pay more attention to our medical professionals, our teachers, our policemen, prisons officers and many others who also need to receive adequate compensation for the services that they render.
Most importantly, we will be respecting the wishes of our own employers, the Wananchi,” he said.
President Uhuru also addressed the borrowing spree, which experts have warned could bring the economy to its knees, saying that the country is not at risk of default on loans and is able to pay its creditors.
“Our debt is about 50% of our GDP. Of that amount, less than half is in foreign currency. Our debt has grown almost proportionally to our GDP. Every year since the start of my administration, we have made adequate budgetary provisions to service the debt. I want to assure Kenyans that at no point has the country been at risk of default or shown any inability to pay its creditors
KDF To Remain In Somalia
Uhuru also said that the government is not going to withdraw KDF in Somalia since Operation Linda Nchi has degraded the capacity of Al-Shabaab to carry out large-scale attacks in Kenya and elsewhere.
“In 2011, we made a historic decision. We sent our young men and women across the border in pursuit of an enemy dedicated to the destruction of our motherland. Since then, in collaboration with regional and international allies, we have robbed the enemy of territory, resources, and control over people. Still, the threat remains. And therefore, we continue our mission in Somalia. We know that if we fight the enemy in Somalia, we won’t have to fight them here at home,” he said.
“My Administration Has Championed Devolution”
Contrary to the accusations especially by governors that his government has frustrated devolution, Uhuru maintained that his administration has fully supported devolution.
“My administration’s championing of Devolution goes beyond the legal processes of implementation. By making the timely transfer of funds, far above the constitutional threshold, and our smooth implementation of the transfer of functions, a welcome economic dynamism has emerged in the counties.”