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National Dialogue Committee begins talks on cost of living

The National Dialogue Committee has now shifted its focus to discussing the high cost of living.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah, who is co-chairing the committee with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, said they had resolved that beginning next week they shall be inviting a number of experts to help them ‘crack the numbers and be able to come up with proposals that will ease the burden Kenyans are bearing.

Speaking at Nakuru’s Lake Elementaita Mountain Lodge, Mr. Ichung’wah disclosed that the discussions on the high cost of living will kick off on October 31st at the Bomas of Kenya.

At the same time, Mr. Ichung’wah has announced that the Committee has instructed its technical team to begin drafting Bills that will actualize the areas of convergence that Kenya Kwanza and Azimio have agreed on during the ongoing talks.

He said they have agreed on a number of issues, including the auditing of elections, and are working on the instruments to use.

They have further agreed on the creation of two new positions in the executive: the office of the Official Opposition Leader and that of Prime Cabinet Secretary with the Majority Leader indicating that the positions are meant to enhance inclusivity and accountability in the governance system.

Mr. Ichung’wah noted that the cost of living is not an issue to be discussed and agreed on in one sitting.

He said the committee is exploring what constitutes immediate, medium, and long-term solutions.

The committee, he said, has agreed to have a discussion with a number of experts they will engage. He said after exhausting the discussion on the cost of living, they will focus on the other issues.

He noted that they have an extension approval from the Senate and National Assembly, and they have another 30 days from October 28 to November 28.

Mr. Kalonzo indicated that the committee is dealing with a critical issue that must be addressed, and they will not shy away from it.

He noted that Kenyans were suffering, and they will do their best to have the matter addressed. He added that the cost of living issue remains a priority for the Azimio team and that they will push for legislative action to remove certain taxes that burden Kenyans.

“I want to disabuse people of this notion that the issue of cost of living has been put on the back burner. The cost of living is a heavy matter that will require serious sacrifices in terms of taking legislative action to remove certain taxes,” stated the Wiper leader.

He added, “We have started discussion on this important matter. We know that Kenyans across the political divide are feeling the heat of the cost of living, and I want to assure them that we are dealing with it head-on.”

Kalonzo said the cost of living is in the framework agreement they adopted when the talks started. He noted that as they progress with the discussion, they may want to recall some experts.

On the issue of checks and balances, Mr. Kalonzo observed there was a need for a position of Leader of Opposition created with the capacity to check the sitting government.

“We also find some weaknesses in the current presidential system where a person who has run for president and eventually comes up as number two is left out without a formal office and without anything to do. That does not augur well not only for national cohesion but also for the capacity of a country to hold its leaders to account,” said the former Vice President.

He denied that the creation of the two posts seeks to appease the big tribes in the country, saying that they are aimed at addressing the feeling of exclusion that fuels ethnic politics.

“I agree there is a feeling of exclusion that fuels this clamour for our people to be there; it is a real thing, not just a feeling. We are levelling the ground by creating a structure which can accommodate people,” he said.

He said that the committee is on track and will soon present its final report. The Committee has so far agreed on some key issues, such as the reconstitution and restructuring of the IEBC selection panel, the two-thirds gender principle, and the entrenchment of NG-CDF.

By Anne Mwale

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