President William Samoei Ruto addresses inaugural Joint Sitting of the 13th Parliament
On 29th September 2022, H.E. Dr. William Samoei Ruto spelt out his legislative agenda to lawmakers in a Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate, which doubled up as the official opening of the 13th Parliament. The inauguration of Parliament now paves the way for the two Houses to commence business next week.
This was the second time since the August 9th general election, that the two Houses were holding a formal sitting. The initial Sitting of both Houses took place on September 8th, when the newly elected legislators, then, were sworn -in and thereafter, they elected their respective House Speakers.
In his introductory remarks, he congratulated all the Members of Parliament on their election and lauded them for the sturdy confidence they had placed on their respective Speakers by overwhelmingly electing them to office.
While underscoring the need for the two Houses to embrace collegiality, the President called for unity of purpose in the legislature to ensure that the public gets value through stringent oversight of resources invested in every policy, programme and project. He also called on the lawmakers not to let down their constituents.
“The confidence demonstrated by Kenyans in us and our institutions should inspire us to raise the bar in service delivery to the nation and accountability to the electorate”, he urged.
Noting the National Assembly’s and Senate’s varied constitutional mandates, he underscored the importance of collaboration between the Houses of Parliament in pushing for the enactment of progressive legislation. He urged the two Houses to work together towards the re-establishment and realignment of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) within the provisions of the Constitution, as well as on the establishment of the Senate Oversight Fund.
Recounting his experience during his 15-year Parliamentary tenure , he observed that both Funds would pivotal in empowering the lawmakers to effectively oversight millions of shared revenue apportioned to the Counties, while addressing any funding gaps in their respective constituencies . This comes against the background of a recent ruling by the Supreme Court which pronounced the Constituency Development Fund Act, 2013 as unconstitutional.
During the address, he also informed the Members of Parliament that his administration would openly pursue a transformational agenda which would include overhauling the country's social security infrastructure to make it more inclusive.
Addressing the status of Kenya’s national debt, the President outlined measures his government is putting in place to spur the economy without encouraging further borrowing. Some of the measures include inculcating a domestic saving culture whereby for every two shillings saved, the government offers a one shilling incentive, and cutting down on recurrent expenditure.
In a move that signals his government’s new trajectory in embracing austerity measures, he informed the legislators of his recent directive to the National Treasury to review the 2022/2023 budget ,with an aim of cutting-off 300 billion from non-essential budgetary projections.
He further revealed that the government would soon kick-off a national savings drive to encourage those in the informal sector to set up their own retirement health plan as a means to actualise Universal Health Coverage.
The President further informed the two Houses that he would be forwarding some legislative proposals for their consideration to operationalise some of his election pledges.
Following the official opening of Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate are expected to commence business next week.