A time for return to the basics of national growth agenda – Raila Odinga

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A TIME FOR RETURN TO THE BASICS OF NATIONAL GROWTH AGENDA:

1. The stalemate over the third basis revenue sharing formula that ran from July and saw the Senate fail to agree a record ten times is finally behind us. I take this opportunity to thank President Uhuru Kenyatta for his intervention which saw the government offer Sh50 billion additional funding to counties.

2. The President’s intervention helped the country break the unfortunate stalemate that was also being used by populist politicians to profile revenue sharing as a county against county or region against region contest over national resources, thus polarizing the nation. In the end however, the nation has won over vested partisan political interests.

3. I also thank the senators for taking advantage of the opportunity created by the President’s offer of additional funding and ending the protracted stalemate.

4. The revenue sharing impasse laid bare at least three critical issues that, as a country, we must occupy ourselves with going forward if we are to avoid similar standoff in future.

5. First, it became clear that even as we talk of shared prosperity, our productivity as a nation is way below the demands of our growing population. The “Plenty” we envisage in our National Anthem has dwindled significantly over the years, leaving our people to fight over very meagre resources.

6. As a country, we must urgently return to debating how to create fair and equal chances for every Kenyan to participate optimally in national productivity and wealth creation so that we may together create wealth that is more than enough for us to share.

7. Unless this is done, and particularly with rapidly growing educated youth population, we will have more vicious fights, as we strive to share poverty rather than prosperity.

8. Secondly, it is important and urgent that we all support the proposal to increase the share of revenue to counties. In the envisaged BBI reforms, we had proposed to raise the minimum percentage of national revenue to counties from at least 15 per cent to at least 35 per cent. It is our hope that this proposal will receive positive consideration by the BBI team and will also be endorsed by Kenyans.

9. Thirdly, as a country, we must recommit to fighting corruption in all its manifestations at both the county and national governments even as we fight to ensure more functions and more funds are devolved. We must commit to raising the standards for holding our national and county governments accountable for their use of public resources.

10. We must also have in place a robust mechanism for punishing and getting rid of the cartels and syndicates that promote corruption and plunder in our national and county governments so that every cent raised by Kenyans and allocated to the development of Kenyans only funds our county and national development.

11. This was, and remains a national dialogue on how best to generate and equitably share national prosperity. All the issues it brought to the fore are at the centre of the BBI agenda for the country. With the stalemate now out of the way, it is my expectation that the country can now refocus on the envisaged reform agenda that aims to catalyze productivity by making all Kenyans producers rather than mere consumers and dependents, increase revenue to counties and fight corruption.

The stand-off must compel us as a nation to return to the basics of growth and wealth creation.