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I am extremely excited to join you this morning to preside over the opening of the Second Kenya Social Protection Conference 2018 in Nairobi.
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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2ND SOCIAL PROTECTION CONFERENCE AT THE KENYA SCHOOL OF MONETARY STUDIES, NAIROBI ON 21ST MARCH, 2018

Read by his deputy William Ruto,

 

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am extremely excited to join you this morning to preside over the opening of the Second Kenya Social Protection Conference.  I am particularly delighted to note that since the last Social Protection Conference hosted here in Nairobi in 2015, the country has made significant milestones, key among them the embracing of a more coordinated approach in the implementation of social protection interventions.

 

I am aware that Kenya continues to provide experiential opportunities to other countries that are implementing similar social protection programmes as attested to by the presence of global guests who are present in this event.  I welcome them to Kenya.  Let me also recognise and thank all participants, distinguished guests and partners who are here today for this event.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am particularly pleased with the Conference’s theme which is: “Scaling up investment in Social Protection: A contribution to the delivery of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the achievement of the SDGs”.  Furthermore, I am impressed by the overall objective of the conference which is an opportunity for learning and sharing of experiences amongst various social protection actors with a view to stimulating, motivating, promoting and advocating for increased investment in the sub-sector by all actors in a coherent and coordinated manner.

In Kenya, we recognize that our people are our greatest resource hence the need to keep them healthy, educated and energized in order for them to participate meaningfully towards sustainable development and the realisation of the Government’s Big Four and Vision 2030 agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the next five years, my Government will focus on what we have called the Big 4, that is:-  Manufacturing, Affordable housing, Food security, and Universal healthcare. These are the pillars for the transformation of our economy.

Given that Big 4 Agenda is in tandem with Jubilee’s Manifesto, my Government is determined to mount solid development programmes covering all sectors of the country to ensure we put the shine on the welfare of our people in line with the Constitution and The Kenya Vision 2030. Towards this end, our Social Protection Programmes are in line with the Government’s key plans that seek to protect the rights of women, children, youth, people living with disabilities, older persons as well as minorities and marginalised groups of our society.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is important to note that despite the strong economic outlook and the progress we have registered through Social Assistance, Social Security and Social Health Insurance, we still have considerable challenges to overcome.  For example, the coverage of these social protection interventions remains largely limited by resources.  This perhaps partly explains why 46% of Kenyans still live below the poverty line with 19% of them being in chronic poverty. This is unacceptable because there is no possibility of us achieving dignity for ourselves as a Nation if we continue having almost half of our population living in poverty. We are therefore determined to make necessary investments to ensure the majority of our citizens can afford basic needs of life.

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I am aware, Ladies and Gentlemen, that a number of sectors including the County Governments and other players are designing and implementing social protection interventions across the country. It is against this background that during the recent reorganization of my government, I established the State Department for Social Protection, Pensions and Senior Citizens Affairs to ensure that issues of social protection are given due attention and that the various interventions are applied in a more coordinated manner.

Additionally, in the last four years, my government has invested heavily in social protection programmes with a view to increasing and improving the safety net services.  Cumulatively, therefore, the government  has spent KSh66 Billion on the cash transfer programmes for our needy and vulnerable populations who include senior citizens.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,  cleaniliness

In the current Financial Year, my Government has allocated a total amount of Ksh22.8 Billion to cash transfer programmes.  These include the cash transfers for the Older Persons, Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Persons with Severe Disabilities and the funds meant to finance the Hunger Safety Net Programme targeting the most poor and vulnerable households in selected arid Counties. It is expected that by the end of the 2017/2018 Financial Year, close to 1.3 million households across the country would have benefited from these programmes.

On an even more positive note, I wish to announce that, in the next few days, senior citizens aged 70 years and above will start receiving payments in the enhanced Inua Jamii 70+ programme. You will remember that this is one of the major promises that the Jubilee administration promised our senior citizens last year. We are very delighted to make this promise a reality and have no doubt in our minds that this will go along way in making our senior citizens live a more decent life.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

My administration has also invested in various forms of technology in order to strengthen systems in delivery of government services. I urge the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to leverage on the robust ICT systems to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of payments to beneficiaries while keeping abreast with emerging innovations. I am pleased to note that the Ministry is rolling out a new payments solution that empowers the beneficiaries through choice of financial service providers and allows them to save their benefits for future use. I urge the payment service providers involved in these programmes to support my Government in taking financial services closer to the beneficiaries and collaborate more in advancing financial literacy and inclusion.

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In this context, I further want to reiterate my Government’s commitment to continue making budgetary allocations towards social protection programmes. The government will also continue to ensure that realistic measures are taken to make all social protection systems entrenched in our overall plans.

In this regard, I direct the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to work more closely with the Ministry of Planning and National Treasury and other ministries implementing social protection programmes to ensure that the programmes are sustainable and reach the targeted populations in an effective and efficient manner.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Attainment of accessible, affordable, sustainable and quality healthcare is a priority for my Government. In this regard, universal health insurance coverage and equity in provision of health services are critical to eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. To this end, my government has introduced free Maternity Services for all expectant mothers and free primary healthcare for all Kenyans.  With the introduction of health insurance subsidies by NHIF, the poor and vulnerable now have access to health services. I am aware that over 223,968 vulnerable households are bonafide NHIF members and have access to healthcare services including cancer care.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Malnutrition comes in various forms and today close to 26% of our children are stunted and are not able to achieve their full potential. I want to urge all State Departments such as those dealing with Social Protection, Education Agriculture  and Health to implement interventions and programmes that address the underlying causes of malnutrition. This will also address economic empowerment and increase resilience to shocks and stress, especially among women of reproductive age, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

The youth, women and persons with disabilities face enormous challenges in accessing opportunities to participate in development.  My Government therefore is committed to empowering these special groups through specific interventions such as The National Youth Service, Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Uwezo Fund, Women Enterprise Fund, National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, Access to Government Procurement Opportunities, and Youth Training and Internship Programme.  In addition, measures have been put in place to promote skills enhancement as well as access to markets and financial services.

 

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

 

My Government recently launched the Kenya Labour Market Information System (KLMIS) to facilitate access to information on the country’s labour market. The system also facilitates interaction between jobseekers and potential employers, besides assisting in matching skills possessed by the youth to the demands of the labour market. Furthermore, in order to streamline the management of labour migration and protect our citizens’ rights while seeking jobs in foreign countries, my administration has developed and gazetted a Code of Conduct and Regulation for Private Employment Agencies and will continue to have favourable Bilateral Labour Agreements with host countries where our citizens are employed.

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Furthermore, my Government in partnership with the World Bank, is implementing the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP).  This is a five-year project, aimed at increasing employment and earning opportunities among unemployed youths aged between 18 and 29. The project targets to benefit 70,000 youths who will be trained and placed on internship in both formal and informal sectors of the economy through apprenticeship.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Although our social security industry is now worth nearlyKsh.1 Trillion, only 17% of our working population are beneficiaries. Worse still, even the17%, are not saving enough to live on in their old age.  The remaining 83%who aren’t saving, belong to the informal economy.  To avoid future challenges of creating a cycle of aging population that is not cushioned through such savings, I am directing the Board of Trustees of the National Social Security Fund, the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), and other stakeholders including the private sector to jointly work together to identify and implement, simple, flexible and transparent terms that will ensure that every person who is working, regardless of where they are working, contribute and save enough for their old age.

Also to ensure that the Social Protection programmes are entrenched in a solid legal framework, I urge Parliament to ensure that bills that directly touch on the poor and vulnerable groups of our society are given priority.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I end my remarks, I wish to reiterate my government’s commitment to upscaling resources for implementation of social protection programmes to ensure no vulnerable Kenyan is left behind in the development of our economy.

At this juncture, may I take this opportunity to thank our development partners, private sector and civil society who have walked with us in the journey to empower  the less fortunate in our society. Together, we can empower individuals and families with capabilities and opportunities to overcome poverty and make meaningful contribution to our national development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is now my humble duty and privilege to declare this second Kenya Social Protection Conference officially opened.

 

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU

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