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State's bold plan to grow economy, boost livelihoods

President William Ruto during the 59th Jamhuri day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium on December 12, 2022. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

President William Ruto has announced that in a record 12 days since the launch of the Hustler Fund, Kenyans have borrowed a record Sh7.5 billion and repaid Sh1.1 billion while about Sh400 million has gone into savings.

Speaking during the 59th Jamhuri Day celebrations at the Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi Monday, Ruto said Kenyans have found a platform to save under the programme, which shows that they know the value of borrowing and repaying loans.

The President noted that the government was working with the private sector and has engaged suppliers to import 300,000 tonnes of fertiliser with two million bags having already landed at the port of Mombasa.

The remaining four million will be arriving in the first week of January, next year. "Time has come to liberate our agricultural production from dependence on rainfall patterns and vulnerability to drought and the effects of climate change. We must produce food throughout the year. We have identified 100 dams in various parts of the country to double the land under irrigation from the current 670,000 acres increasing it to three million acres," he said.

He explained that the government has commenced the plan of planting 15 billion trees on 11 million hectares of land across the country by 2030 to increase the tree cover from 12 per cent to 30 per cent and combat the effects of climate change.

Ruto said the plan will be implemented through the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with counties and stakeholders - both local and foreign. He said the State, in partnership with Nairobi County will recruit 11,000 youths to grow 1.5 million trees in the capital city's open and public spaces.

The President admitted that the cost of housing is a heavy burden to the majority of the people and is the key factor driving the proliferation of slums. He committed to ensuring the construction of more affordable to enable Kenyans to live in safe and dignified homes and create jobs and investment opportunities.

"Through our programme to increase the supply of affordable housing at the rate of 200,000 new units every year, we will lower the cost of living for urban dwellers, making the dream of home ownership possible for the majority of Kenyans with units available at monthly instalments of between Sh2,500 to Sh10,000," said Ruto.

Dr Ruto revealed that the Kenya Revenue Authority is implementing a new tax administration policy which has seen manufacturing firms shut down over tax disputes reopened, injecting much-needed revenue into the economy and creating jobs. He urged citizens to support government efforts by paying taxes.

He said the government undertook to review the Competence Based Curriculum following concerns of stakeholders, especially parents and teachers which saw the setting up of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform to make recommendations to boost the system.

"In fulfilment of our undertaking to increase teacher to learner ratio in our primary and secondary schools, the government has embarked on the single largest recruitment of teachers in Kenya by providing resources to the Teachers Service Commission to recruit 30,000 teachers," he said.

He noted that 82 per cent of Kenyans know how to read and write with many of them having substantial levels of education with skills and professional qualifications to make Kenya self-reliant in every sector with life expectancy having risen significantly.

Ruto said that there are 32,594 primary schools, 10,482 secondary schools, 12 national polytechnics, 259 technical and vocational training institutions and 87 universities which shows progress in improving academic standards in the country.

The Head of State further acknowledged Kenya's consistent record of leadership to advance the cause of peace, cohesion, security and stability on the continent under various regional and continental frameworks with the support of the international partners.

Ruto said that his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta was working under the aegis of the African Union and is engaged in mediation efforts to restore peace and stability in Ethiopia's Tigray region, and under the East African Community Initiative to end the conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

He noted that in the last three months, the country has aggressively sustained the pursuit of mutually beneficial endeavours with East African Community Member States, South Africa, Spain, Qatar, Germany, South Korea, Britain and the United States of America.

The President commended the National Police Service for its enthusiasm in embracing the changes and enhancing security through increased vigilance and improved relationships with citizens.

He promised to appoint a task force to review the terms of the Police Service saying there is now consensus that a new policing paradigm makes it possible to achieve high security for citizens and observe their rights and freedoms. Dr Ruto assured the nation that traditional security threats in the country are under control with the State making huge strides to eliminate banditry, cattle rustling and urban crime.

The President lauded Kenyan professionals abroad for actualising their career goals and increasing remittances. "We are proud of the Kenyan Diaspora for remitting over Sh400 billion annually with remittances being a reliable indicator of the value of the professional contribution," he said.

He said his administration is working towards making the diaspora remittances reach Sh1 trillion.

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