MPs in mad rush to clear Ruto PS nominees before going on recess
A record 30 principal secretary nominees were vetted yesterday by National Assembly committees and are set for approval by the House this afternoon in a mad rush by lawmakers to pave way for their official appointment.
The committees, in a bid to hit today’s deadline of tabling their reports before MPs start their long Christmas recess, had to conduct the vetting exercise in various hotels across the city due to limited rooms in Parliament.
Immediately after the conclusion of the vetting, the secretariat of the committees started working on the reports. The Lands committee for instance, after completing the vetting of PS nominee Nixon Korir at 11.30 am, chairman Joash Nyamoko directed the secretariat to have a draft by 4 pm.
The consideration of the PS nominees, who are the accounting officers in ministries, completes the list of Executive appointees that require vetting by MPs as President William Ruto completes forming his government.
During his vetting, Mr Korir told MPs if confirmed, he will consult with other ministry officials to scrap the 10 per cent fee charged for one to pick a title deed. He also put on notice cartels saying he will work with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to expose them
He pointed out that the digitisation of land records is the only way to end land fraud.
“Illegal allocation of land to the powerful won’t happen again,” Mr Korir said.
Appearing before the Energy committee, Energy PS nominee Alex Wachira said his vision, if appointed, is to accelerate the connection of Kenyans to the national grid as well as reduce the high cost of electricity.
He said that the country can achieve 100 per cent electricity connection in five years, that is, by 2027 from the current 77 per cent.
Mr Wachira said in terms of cost, the problem was thermal power, and his priority will be to cut over-reliance on the same by tapping other sources like solar and wind power in the long term.
“We will retire thermal plants to reduce the high cost of electricity in the country,” he said.
Appearing before the Housing, Urban Planning and Public Works Committee, Housing nominee Charles Hinga said the provision of affordable and decent housing will be his preoccupation.
To achieve this, he said he will leverage the private sector to raise the Sh1.2 trillion needed to put up 500,000 housing units to bridge the existing housing gap.
“Every Kenyan has the right to affordable and decent housing yet a majority of Kenyans live in deplorable conditions, with 65 per cent of people in Nairobi living in slums,” said Mr Hinga.
Appearing before the same committee, Public Works nominee Joel Arumonyang said his focus, if approved, will be on ensuring the quality of projects is not compromised. This would be achieved through adopting new legislation on building as Kenya still relies on the 1968 building code.
“We will also engage with stakeholders and regulatory bodies to find a lasting solution to the issue of collapsing of buildings,” said Mr Arumonyang.
He said he will also deal with the issue of stalled projects.
“Failure to have enough funds before starting a project is what contributes to delays in implementing projects. I will be pushing to ensure projects only begin after enough budgetary allocation,” he said.
Dr Belio Kipsang, the PS nominee for Basic Education and his counterparts Beatrice Inyangala (Higher Education) and Esther Muoria (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) said their focus will be improving standards in the institutions falling under their dockets.
Ms Muoria said she will work with stakeholders to change the perception people have of TVET institutes.
Appearing before the Transport Committee, three PS nominees — Mr Mohamed Daghar (Transport), Mr Joseph Mungai (Roads) and Mr Shadrack Mwadime (Shipping and Maritime Affairs)—undertook to transform the country’s transport and infrastructure sector if approved.
Immediately after the vetting, Ndia MP George Kariuki, who chairs the committee, announced that it had unanimously approved the three nominees.
“Following the approval of the nominees by the committee, I will table the report in the House tomorrow for approval and I am optimistic that the House will adopt it,” said Mr Kariuki.
Mr Daghar said he will ensure that Phase IC of the standard gauge railway reaches the Malaba border as he also promised to deal with corruption among other ills at the department.
“I will give priority to the development of policies aimed at streamlining the eight authorities in the state department,” Mr Daghar, with a net worth of Sh82 million, told the committee.
He also promised to address Kenya Airways' challenges to avert future industrial action and turn it around in six months, in line with the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.
Noting that the boda boda sector is important to the growth of the country’s economy, Mr Daghar said that together with other stakeholders, he will streamline it to make it more efficient.
Mr Mbugua said that the top on his agenda will be to ensure that Sh92 billion owed to contractors in pending bills is settled.
“The President has stated that one of his priorities is to have the thorny issue of pending bills settled and that will be top on my agenda,” Mr Mbugua, with a net worth of Sh250 million, said.
The nominee also promised to engage stakeholders to ensure that the country achieves the universally accepted road infrastructure standards.
Mr Mwadime, who is worth Sh75 million, said he will probe the alleged misappropriation of public funds in the construction of the Sh2.5 billion headquarters for the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) in Mombasa. He also promised to restructure KNSL, noting that there was a need for the government to take full ownership of the organisation so as to have the power to carry out reforms to improve its performance.
Labour and Skills Development PS nominee Geoffrey Kaituko said he will push for more labour attachés in countries where there is a big labour market for Kenyans like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Poland to deal with labour cases. He is also banking on the Labour Migration Management Bill to give the ministry power to crack the whip on rogue recruitment agencies.
In regard to perennial industrial actions, he said he will promote dialogue and pursue alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms.
To deal with child labour, he said he will see to it that the ministry sends labour inspectors to hotspots.
Public Service PS nominee Amos Gathecha, appearing before the same committee, gave his undertaking to deal with the ethnic imbalance.
On the question of how he intends to deal with corruption and improve service delivery, Mr Gathecha said that he will entrench performance contracting and appraisals.
“Performance contracting and appraisals will be mandatory so that public servants know that their performance has implications,” he said.
Reports by Samwel Owino, David Mwere and Collins Omulo