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Covid 19 Undermines Development Agenda

The country has recorded 31 more Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours bringing the total tally to 1,192. Cumulatively 57,650 samples have been tested so far as for this morning.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who on Saturday addressed the nation while giving the the highlights of the 8 economic stimulus programme said, the rate of infections may indeed surge upwards or fall if we all fail to comply to protocol issues given by the Ministry of health.
“The Coronavirus pandemic will continue undermining our efforts to revitalize the economy for the unforeseeable future. It is my prayer that we heed the call and conduct ourselves with responsibility “, he said
The President noted that during these unprecedented times of CORONA VIRUS, we have to cushion the economy from below and not from top down and that is why the government has been injecting Ksh 250 million shillings each week to vulnerable families giving them power to make economic choices in their local spaces and not depend on lining up to receive food donations.
The government, President Uhuru said is also worried for the young people despite their population which is 70 percent being better equipped to fight the Corona virus.
“During a pandemic like the one we have, the sheer energy of our young population will fight the virus alright but in the process, their energy could also be misdirected”, he noted .
As the government fights this virus, President Uhuru said the young people are being engaged in the National Hygiene Programme under the Kazi Mtaani Initiatrive and through the programme government will spend Ksh 10 billion
“Currently, during the trial period the number of youth engaged is 26,000 and we intend to increase that number to 200,000 youths, across the country.”, President Uhuru said
The President pointed out that his 8-Point Economic Stimulus Programme, amounting to a total of Ksh 53.7 Billion will stimulate growth and cushion families and companies as the country navigates its way out the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first element of the 8-point programme will focus on infrastructure and Government intends to rehabilitate access roads, footbridges and other public infrastructure and set aside Ksh 5 billion to hire local labour for undertaking
“The use of local labour and local construction materials, in line with our “Buy Kenya Build Kenya” Policy, will stimulate and support micro and small business enterprises.
The second element of the stimulus programme, President Uhuru said will be on education saying that in the near future, he will be communicating on what plans and programmes the government has for the education sector and has allocated an additional budget of Ksh. 6.5 Billion to the Ministry of Education
“I know the anxiety weighing on the minds of parents and their children in regard to when schools will re-open. We will in the very near future, be communicating”, he said noting that the purpose of this is to hire 10,000 teachers and 1,000 ICT interns to support digital learning.
The programme, the President added will also support the improvement of school infrastructure, including acquisition of 250,000 locally fabricated desks in order to get thousands of our graduates off the bench and into action while local artisans and builders businesses are supported.
The third element of the programme will target Small and Medium Enterprises whose liquidity has been adversely affected during the COVID pandemic
The government has allocated Ksh 10 Billion to fast-track payment of outstanding VAT refunds and other pending payments., President Uhuru said noting that treasury yesterday released Ksh. 30 Billion towards payment of pending bills in the roads sector.
In addition, the president said will inject Ksh 3 Billion as seed capital for the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme with the intention to provide affordable credit to small and micro enterprises.
Health is the fourth target of the 8-point stimulus programme and the government will be hiring 5,000 healthcare workers with diploma/certificate – level qualification for a period of one year. In order to enhance the COVID-19 response.
The stimulus programme will also set aside Ksh.1.7 Billion for the expansion of bed capacity in public hospitals with President Uhuru encouraging the Ministry of health to utilize Jua Kali Sector in this endeavor.
The fifth element of the stimulus programme will focus on agriculture and government has prioritized Ksh. 3 billion for the supply of farm inputs through e-vouchers, targeting 200,000 small scale farmers.
under this programme, he government has also allocated Ksh. 1.5 billion to assist flower and horticultural producers to access international markets, in a period where there is shortage of flights into and out of the country.
Tourism is the sixth area of target for the stimulus programme and according to President Uhuru, it is the sector that has suffered the most because of restricted movements, and termination of international flights.
“To jumpstart this important sector, and protect its players from heavy financial losses, my Administration will provide soft loans to hotels and related establishments through the Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC), and A total of Ksh 2 Billion will be set aside to support renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations by actors in this industry”, President Uhuru said.
The tourism component of the stimulus programme will also engage 5,500 community scouts under the Kenya Wildlife Service at a cost of Ksh. 1 billion with additional support made available to approximately 160 community conservancies at a cost of Ksh. 1 billion.
The seventh element of the stimulus concerns the environment and the government will rehabilitate wells, water pans and underground tanks in the Arid and Semi-Arid areas by setting aside Ksh. 850 million, a further Ksh 1Billion for flood control measures and another Ksh 540 Million for Greening Kenya Campaign.
The Eighth and final element of the stimulus programme is manufacturing that will enforce the policy on “Buy Kenya Build Kenya”, and to this end, President Uluru’s administration has set aside an initial investment of Ksh. 600 million to purchase locally manufactured vehicles and this is expected to sustain the operations of local motor vehicle manufacturers, and the attendant employment of workers.
President Uhuru urged the August House to consider, on a priority basis the Budget Proposals to anchor the 8 – Point Economic Stimulus Programme in order to release the money to Kenyans who are in need.
By Wangari Ndirangu

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