President Ruto’s inaugural address: a promise of economic revival

President William Ruto was inaugurated with his predecessor present and the usual hordes of fans, who packed the Kasarani stadium to witness the momentous ceremony. His speech may be seen as an economic revitalization pledge. Of course, it all depends on how long it takes and how much effort is put in to make it happen.

The inaugural address, which usually follows the presidential oath, plays an important role in the ritual transfer of power. From his speech, President Ruto was eager to mend the economy and operationalize independent institutions for the benefit of Kenyans.

Institutions

Ruto first emphasized the necessity of innovative technology deployment to secure election outcomes and committed to supporting the IEBC’s institutional ability by the way of increasing technology deployment to cover all elections from the MCA to the President.

President Ruto also stated that his administration will increase the judiciary’s budgetary allocation by Ksh 3 billion per year for the next five years to help the arm of government support bottom-up scaling of justice by raising the number of small claims courts from 25 to 100. The President also stated that he would fully appoint the six judges in order to increase the efficiency of the judiciary.

“This afternoon I will appoint the 6 judges already nominated for appointment to the court of appeal, three years ago, by the Judicial Service Commission, and tomorrow, I shall preside over their swearing-in ceremony so that they can get on with the business of serving the people.” President Ruto said.

President Ruto went on to say that he had granted the National Police Service financial autonomy by shifting their budget from the Office of the President and designating the Inspector-General as the accounting officer.

Economy

President Ruto, who campaigned on economic revival, promised a slew of bold changes that would go into effect this week.

Ruto stated that there was a need to invest in producers while avoiding subsidies due to their widespread effects.

“Consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidized.” President Ruto said.

President Ruto stated that his top objective will be to make fertilizer, high-quality seeds, and other agricultural inputs inexpensive and accessible.

“For the short rain season, we have already made arrangements to make 1.4 million bags of fertilizer available at Ksh3,500 for a 50kg bag down from the current Ksh 6,500. This will be available from next week,” he said.

President Ruto also stated that he would work to improve the business and entrepreneurship environment, decriminalize livelihoods, and assist people in the informal sector in organizing themselves into stable, viable, and creditworthy business entities. This, he claims, will create jobs and help to halt the flow of youth unemployment.

“We shall implement the Hustler Fund, dedicated to the capitalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises through chamas, saccos, and cooperatives to make credit available on affordable terms that do not require collateral,” President Ruto said.

He further stated that he will establish a Ministry of Cooperatives and SME Development mandated to ensure that every small business has secure property rights, access to finance, and a supportive regulatory framework. Ruto also stated that he will implement a social and affordable low-cost housing initiative, with an annual aim of 250,000 units to assist generate opportunities across the board.

President Ruto promised to reduce credit costs by first shifting the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) framework away from its current practice of arbitrary, punitive, and all-or-nothing blacklisting of borrowers and creating a new system of credit score rating that allows borrowers to manage their creditworthiness.

Port of Mombasa

Keeping his promise during the campaigns, Ruto said that port operations shall immediately revert to the port of Mombasa to help restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa.

Debt

President Ruto stated that he will prioritize the timely resolution of the country’s pending bills in order for the government to meet its obligations and allow improved economic performance. He also underlined the importance of broadening the country’s revenue base through creation of employment and capitalizing on SMEs.

Health and Education

President Ruto stated that he will restructure the National Health Insurance Fund to make it a supplier of social health insurance, improve medical supply procurement, deploy an integrated state-of-the-art health information system, and provide appropriate human resources at all levels.

With the CBC implementation having been top of his agenda during campaigns, President Ruto urged for public participation.

“We will establish an Education Reform Taskforce in the Presidency which will be launched in the coming weeks. It will collect views from all key players in line with the constitutional demand for public participation. We are particularly alive to the anxieties of parents on the twin transitions of the last 8-4-4 class and the first CBC class in January next year. I assure you that there will be a solution to the matter before then.” he said.

President Ruto went on to say that the diaspora had been elevated to our 48th county considering its importance and emphasized the importance of collaboration with county governments in order to achieve his goals. He also promised to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth with global partners, and promised to deliver as Kenya’s new boss.

President Ruto’s address signaled a shift in tone and vision that many Kenyans needed during this period of great turmoil and uncertainty.

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