Good morning everyone. Let me take this opportunity to welcome and thank you for making it to today’s press briefing.
I will quickly recap the recent Head of State’s events, and then look at what’s coming up on the President’s diary.
1. Foreign trips
I’ll start with foreign trips. President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Canada early this month, at the invitation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canada is one of our oldest and closest friends, a country that President Kenyatta had already visited before – you will recall that he was in Quebec for last year’s G7 Summit.
This time, the President Kenyatta was in Vancouver where he spoke at the Women Deliver conference – a global meeting convened to defend women’s rights to health, to equal treatment, and to representation in power. And the President shared Kenya’s experience in gender matters, not least in opening up the highest levels of government to women.
Youth and jobs
After consultation, Kenya’s young people have made it clear that they want much quicker progress in jobs, in the regulation of their businesses, and in the availability of credit.
On each of those points, there is good news to report.
Starting with jobs: last year, we created more than 840,000 new jobs (Economic Survey 2019, p. 39). That’s a lot of new jobs, especially coming after an election year when, as we all know, the economy tends to slow somewhat.
This year, we expect to do even better. The long and short of it is that the voices of despair are simply wrong: there are jobs in this economy, and we have every reason to expect even more to be created when we review the full numbers for 2019.
Second, regulation. The President’s intervention at Embakasi, and recent discussions to smooth out the problems that arose in the importation of spare parts, are an answer to the worry that regulation, though necessary, might hurt young people’s businesses. We will continue to listen, and to regulate with as light a touch as is possible.
Third, credit. Time and again, we’ve heard from young people who have a business, or a good idea for one, that what they want is inexpensive capital. Few young people can afford to pay the rates that banks demanded before the interest-rate cap; even after the rate cap, we find that banks are wary of lending to them.
What we have done to open up access to young people, and to small businesses more generally, is to encourage the banks to lend. That’s why we’re pleased to see the new scheme, Stawi, under which loans will be made available to small businesses at 9%. Our young people and our small-business owners’ hard work and innovation deserve our support; with the Stawi loans, they’ll get it.
Fourth, is the new jobs programme to be launched on Thursday, in conjunction with MasterCard. The President has been working on this since last year, when he met MasterCard’s leadership on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly. He has since been in regular contact with them, in preparation for the event this Thursday, to which he looks forward to. I can’t say much about it now; what I can say is that he will launch a striking new programme for jobs.
3. President Kenyatta Assents to Three Key Bills Aimed at Improving Service Delivery
President Uhuru Kenyatta last week signed three key Bills into law with the aim of improving service delivery.
The Three Bills are:
i. National Cohesion and Integration (Amendment) Bill, 2019,
ii. Sports (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and
iii. Warehouse Receipt System Bill, 2017.
The National Cohesion and Integration Amendment Bill which now becomes law, seeks to align the Act with the Constitution by providing procedure for appointing Commissioners.
Under the new law the Commissioners for the National Cohesion and Integration Commission are to be appointed by the President and approved by the National Assembly.
Before the amendment, the law provided that the National Assembly nominates the Commissioners and the President appoints them.
However, this position was challenged in the High Court and judgment passed declaring certain sections of the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008 dealing with the procedure of appointing commissioners as unconstitutional.
In the amendment the membership of National Cohesion and Integration Commission now excludes the chairpersons of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the National Gender and Equity Commission and the Commission on Administrative Justice.
The Sports (Amendment) Bill provides for the establishment of Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund.
The new fund, which will be managed in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act, will see the abolition of the National Sports Fund and the National Sports Fund Board of Trustees. The Amended Act also contains provisions on transfer of assets and liabilities and transition of staff serving in the National Sports Fund Board of Trustees to be staff of the new entity.
The Warehouse Receipt System Bill, 2017, which is now an Act of law, provides a legal framework for the development and regulation of a warehouse receipt system for agricultural commodities to address marketing challenges associated with various agricultural sub-sectors in Kenya.
The law also seeks to establish the Warehouse Receipt System Council, which shall facilitate the establishment, maintenance and development of the Warehouse Receipt System for agricultural commodities produced in Kenya.
The Council will ensure the efficiency, effectiveness and integrity of the system. The Council will also provide for registration, licensing and inspection of Warehouses.
Similarly it provides for the licensing and inspection of warehouses, for the application for a licence to operate within the Warehouse Receipts System and the revocation and suspension of the licences. It also provides for the issuance of warehouse receipts, obligations and rights of a warehouse operator upon their receipts, negotiation and transfer of receipts, and penal provisions relating to the issuance among other things.
Kanze Dena Mararo
State House Spokesperson.
18th June 2019.