President Opens a Potentially historic Parliamentary session
Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 @ 17:25:29 CST
Topic: RavenNuke(tm)


NAIROBI - President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday outlined the Government's legislative agenda during the State opening of the Fourth Session of the Tenth Parliament but affirmed that the country's politics must first promote stability and confidence in the future of the country.



President Kibaki challenged legislators to shun divisive partisan politics and focus on the greater good of the country.

The Head of State acknowledged that emerging differences arising amongst leaders must at all times be resolved amicably and with due consideration of the national interests.

The President declared that in his long political career spanning almost half a century, the current Session of Parliament had a rare and historic opportunity to bring long-lasting positive change to the country.

President Kibaki observed, "Honourable Members, I have confidence that this House is up to the task and that it will fulfill its national duty and secure a memorable place in history."

He noted that the August House was reconvening at a particularly important moment when the country was steadily implementing bold reforms and overcoming challenges that have faced the country in the recent past.

President Kibaki noted that the current times called for selflessness and dedication to the service of the Kenyan citizens adding that the future of the country depended on the ability of leaders to forge a common vision for national unity, development and cohesion.

"It is also a time when we are implementing bold reform measures that will define the future of our country and people. This is, therefore, a critical time that demands our selfless and dedicated service to our people," said the President.

He noted, "God bequeathed us a beautiful country with a determined and patriotic people. We should therefore always cherish and protect our nation, as enumerated in our national anthem "Firm may we stand to defend".

Constitution

With regard to the constitution making process, President Kibaki expressed confidence that the country would attain a new Constitutional dispensation after spending two decades in the process adding that the country was currently close to achieving the goal than before.

He commended the Parliamentary Select Committee for doing the nation proud and forging consensus during their two of deliberations in Naivasha during their recess.

The Head of State also appreciated the progress that has so far been made by the Committee of Experts adding that the country was now awaiting the presentation of a consensus draft constitution to the Parliament in a few weeks time.

He affirmed that the Tenth Parliament had a historic opportunity to pass the new Constitution for the republic of Kenya and define the history of the nation.

"I, therefore, urge Honourable Members to uphold the spirit shown by the P.S.C. in Naivasha. It is upon this House to maintain a national consensus on the new Constitution, and thus ensure that the people of Kenya will stand united during the referendum to be held later this year," said the President. 

With regard to the economy, the President noted that for the country to enjoy real economic growth and register success in the war against poverty Kenyans must have access to affordable and low interest credit facilities to enhance wealth creation and expansion of employment opportunities.

He declared that economic growth and shared prosperity would go along way in creating the much needed opportunities for Kenyan people noting that the country's economy was projected to attain a 4.5 per cent growth rate this year.

The President said, "It will be recalled that in 2007 we recorded a G.D.P. growth rate of 7.1 per cent. This was the highest growth rate in three decades. In 2008, due to unfortunate events in our country as well as on the global arena, the economy grew by only 1.7 per cent."

The Head of State commended Kenyans for heeding his call for hardwork and increased production leading to improved milk production and assured wananchi of governments' intervention in the industry to ensure farmers reaped maximum benefits.

The President directed the ministries of Livestock Production, Special Programmes and Cooperatives Development to incorporate powder milk into the national food security.

Corruption

On corruption, the President assured that the government had intensified the war against the vice and that the momentum will be accelerated to cover all vulnerable sectors.

He directed anti-corruption agencies to fast track and conclude pending corruption cases and all inter-corruption agencies to enhance preventive measures.

The President affirmed that the grand coalition government has resolved to deal with corruption decisively and called on the august house to work with the government.

He declared that in order to win the war against the vice, the law must be applied in an impartial and just manner and at the same time not to politicize or personalize the fight against corruption.

The President said, "The national concern over corruption has been on top of national debate for many years now. We have put in place institutions and enacted laws aimed at eradicating corruption in our country. Corruption undermines government policies and distorts allocation of public resources.  It gives our country a poor image and discourages investments."

He further called on the judiciary to ensure speedy conclusion of corruption related cases in the court process terming it a key pillar in the fight against graft.

The Head of State promised that the government would allocate adequate resources to improve the capacity of national institutions involved in the corruption eradication processes.

President Kibaki said, "The public service has been directed to apply the law and regulations firmly and impartially. The government is also consulting with the judiciary into ways of placing a time frame on the period within which a corruption related case should be concluded."

With regard to National Cohesion and Integration, the President noted that the country had made substantial progress in managing the country's diversity and a new law that prescribes tough penalties for those promoting hate speech and ethnic tendencies.

He particularly challenged urged the legislators to make national cohesion the main agenda for the remaining two sessions of the Tenth Parliament and lead from the front because Kenyans were looking upon them to champion the national unity agenda.

President Kibaki observed, "They are looking upon us to leading them as a united and patriotic people of this country. Kenyans should trust the leadership of the country and abandon the temptation to look externally for solutions that can easily be found locally."

Noting that Kenya belongs to all citizens, the President urged Kenyans to uphold the virtues of hard work, caring nation and debating on ideas that uplift the living standards of wananchi.

The Head of State noted that the best panacea to the country's poverty is investment in the education of Kenyan children and to unleash their potential and productive capacities.

The President said, "Let us have mixed delegations of Members of this House reaching out to the people with one message of unity of all Kenyans. Although we come from diverse origins, we are one people. We are one family! Let us strive to ensure every Kenyan is treated with respect and has the opportunity to live a dignified life, wherever they choose to settle. Never, shall we fight one another again."

The President commended Parliament for passing important legislative bills during the previous session adding that the laws addressed several policy concerns in the country citing the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, which will go a long way in reducing the emergence of organized crime in our country.

President Kibaki noted that during the new session the government would be tabling a wide range of bills including those which will arise out of the new constitution as well as those touching on law enforcement and administration of justice sectors.

Police reforms

With regard to police reforms, the President noted that the government is responding to concerns raised by Kenyans touching on police reforms by presenting two bills the Independent Policing Oversight Commission Bill and Police Reforms Bill.

He said that the proposed laws are expected to improve police accountability and enhance the public image of the police as servants of the people.

In order to ensure that the Judiciary has the requisite staff to tackle the huge case backlog, the President said that a Judicial Service Bill will be tabled to entrench the independence of the institution as well as to recruit more judges and magistrates for efficient dispensation of justice.

He said, "There should be no reason why at this point of our development, Kenya should not have enough judges and magistrates. Indeed, an efficient and effective judiciary will be the cornerstone of a revived economy as well as creating confidence in the justice system."

In order to step up war against crime, President Kibaki said the government would be tabling amendments to the Witness Protection Act with the aim to establish an autonomous Witness Protection Agency that is capable of effectively protecting any witnesses to corruption, organized crimes and international crimes from reprisals.

 The law will also cover witnesses who have crucial information in regard to the post-election violence that rocked our country.

The government will also table Election Bill to consolidate all elections laws in the country in order to prevent malpractices in general elections and to provide the procedures for conducting referendums.

"In regard to reforms in our electoral system, we are all agreed on the urgent need to put in place a credible and efficient system. This is the best way of ensuring that the public have confidence in the final outcome of our elections," said the Head of State.

Also to be tabled in Parliament is the Local Government Bill, with the principal objective of repealing the current Local Government Act. The bill will provide for a legal framework that will enhance accountable and effective management at the local government level. The bill also provides for the re-organization of local authorities and establishment of metropolitan councils.

It will provide for the direct election of mayors and deputy mayors of city and municipal councils. Direct elections will also be held for chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of country councils.

In line with the VISION TWENTY THIRTY which seeks to transform Kenya into a competitive and prosperous middle income economy the government must provide an enabling legal environment to make Kenya more competitive for business and investment. The Government will, therefore, table several business-friendly bills in this Session.

The current outdated Companies Act will be replaced by the proposed Companies Bill.  The bill will seek to amend, and simplify the law relating to companies. The bill will be accompanied by the Partnership bill and the limited liability partnerships bill.

The Government will also table the Insolvency Bill to replace the Bankruptcy Act, and streamline procedures in bankruptcy and insolvency law. The bill will also provide for the rehabilitation of the insolvent debtor, unlike the present situation where insolvency almost always results in liquidation.

Business bills

Other business-related bills that will be tabled during this session include: Kenya Deposit Insurance Bill; The Nairobi Stock Exchange Bill, to review ownership of the exchange; Tourism Bill; National Housing Bill; and Special Economic Zones Bill.

The government will also be presenting to Parliament financing approvals for new infrastructure projects and other national investment projects including: Standard gauge railway to Uganda border; Free port at Dongo Kundu; the new transport corridor in Northern Kenya which incorporates the Lamu Port - Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport and Development Corridor.

The President noted that the business and economy related bills, policies and projects he outlined are not only important but also critical to reducing poverty and achieving equitable development throughout the country.

Speaker

House Speaker Kenneth Marende called on legislators to approach debate on the draft-harmonized constitution with sober minds to give Kenyans a new constitution that guaranteed their rights.

Mr. Marende said any proposed changes in the draft constitution in the floor of the House need be made in a mature manner as name calling over divergent views will only cause acrimony and animosity among Kenyans.

The Speaker expressed gratitude to the government for providing financial and technical support in finalizing preparations for live broadcast of parliamentary proceedings.

On international engagements, Mr Marende said Kenya will in September this year be hosting the 56th Commonwealth Parliamentary Plenary Session in Nairobi. President Kibaki is the presiding Patron of Association.

Earlier on arrival at parliament buildings, President Kibaki was received by the Prime Minister Raila Odinga,Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and House Speaker Kenneth Marende among other dignitaries. He inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Air force.

 

Source: PPS







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