President Ruto Highlights 2023 Achievements


President William Ruto has highlighted some of his government’s achievements in 2023 and capped it with thinly veiled criticism of the Judiciary over some of the decisions it rendered regarding government policies.

In his New Year’s address to the nation delivered from State House Nakuru, Ruto admitted that he made some choices that, in the short term, were painful but beneficial in the long term.

These, he said, included cutting expenditure by up to Sh400 billion to reduce borrowing and introduction of new tax measures to enhance tax revenues by Sh600 billion.

“The choices we have made over the last year were neither easy, populist, nor convenient; they were however meaningful, appropriate, and necessary,” the President said.

As a result, Ruto said the country has taken commendable strides, triumphed over the threat of economic stagnation, and is now in a secure position with regard to its sovereign debt obligations.

“Inflation has reduced to 6.8 per cent and our GDP is growing at the rate of 5.4 per cent, placing Kenya as the 29th fastest-growing economy globally,” he added.

The President further pointed out that the decision to scrap subsidies saw food production soar by 40 per cent at a fraction of the previous cost while millions of Kenyans secured jobs under the housing programme as well as entrepreneurial opportunities, both locally and abroad.

“Our housing programme not only provides decent homeownership for millions, including slum-dwellers who now live in squalor, but it also aims to reverse agricultural land fragmentation and has already created 120,000 jobs, with plans to employ an even greater multitude of people next year,” Ruto said.

He lauded the housing programme as one that will enable ordinary Kenyans such as mama mbogas and boda boda riders an opportunity to own homes at 3 per cent interest in a Sh4000-a-month tenant purchase scheme.

Additionally, he said that come the new year, the government will continue the healthcare transformation at the secondary and tertiary levels of care by rolling out a new social health insurance scheme that does not deny low-income earners access to healthcare.

“For the first time, every Kenyan, without exception, will have health insurance, and all Kenyans will access treatment, including for notorious chronic conditions like cancer, hypertension, and diabetes, without discrimination.”

The President, however, took a swipe at the Judiciary which he accused of making decisions against government policies at the expense of the public interest.

He said that whereas there is nothing wrong with challenging policy and holding government to account, the Opposition, Legislature and Judiciary have a duty to make sure the best ideas always prevail in enhancing the well-being of the people on whose behalf the government acts.

Ruto said that in the quest to uphold constitutionalism, exercise institutional independence, and protect people’s rights, caution must be taken not to deny the very people legitimate opportunities like owning homes or accessing healthcare.

“This is what happens when a public servant, enjoying a house mortgage at a 3 per cent interest rate, makes decisions that frustrate the housing programme, robbing millions of youth of employment prospects and denying millions of Kenyans the chance to own a home like them,” he said.

“This is also the case when a public officer, who benefits from unlimited medical insurance, invokes the law to derail universal healthcare delivery, denying millions of vulnerable Kenyans a health cover like them.”

“It is the case when a politician neglects the boundaries of democratic competition: that opposing policy does not permit undermining the nation or sabotaging the national interest or the welfare of the people.”

On November 28, the high court declared unconstitutional a 1.5 per cent levy intended to fund affordable housing that was imposed as part of the Finance Act, 2023, adopted on June 26.

“The introduction of the housing levy… is discriminatory, irrational, and arbitrary and is in violation… of the Constitution,” Justice David Majanja said.

The court, however, stayed the ruling until January 10 to allow the government time to appeal the decision.

A day earlier, on November 27, the court issued conservatory orders against the implementation of three health Acts pending the determination of a petition on February 7, 2024.

Justice E.C Mwita said he was satisfied that the petition filed by Joseph Aura raises important constitutional and legal questions that deserve urgent and serious consideration.

The impugned Acts which Ruto said are aimed at granting all Kenyans equal access to medical care are the Social Health Insurance Act, 2023, the Primary Health Care Act, 2023 and the Digital Health Act, 2023.

The Social Health Insurance Act, of 2023 among other things, provides for the extension of health insurance to all Kenyans based on member contributions, with government-subsidised coverage for the poor.

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