What you need to know:
- In his second term, President Kenyatta promised universal healthcare, half a million affordable homes, a food-secure country, and raising manufacturing to contribute at least 15 percent of the country’s wealth.
- But with 260 days until the August 9, 2022 General Election, the work will have to continue into the next administration.
Deputy President William Ruto and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga are locked in a battle over President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ambitious Big Four agenda and its future after he retires next year.
While Dr Ruto has promised to set aside Sh100 billion for the programmes, Mr Odinga has been rolling out plans of his own premised on President Kenyatta’s vision, the latest being on universal healthcare.
In his second term, President Kenyatta promised universal healthcare, half a million affordable homes, a food-secure country, and raising manufacturing to contribute at least 15 percent of the country’s wealth.
But with 260 days until the August 9, 2022 General Election, the work will have to continue into the next administration, giving the two leading contenders the opportunity to speak about them in their campaigns.
And while Dr Ruto claims he is the best placed to continue implementing the agenda, citing his role in creating the programmes, Mr Odinga argues that he has the best ideas to push forth universal access to healthcare and secure Kenya’s food needs.
President Kenyatta seems to agree that the Big Four will spill over to the next administration.
“Even as we mooted the four intentions, we recognised then, as we still recognise now, they would not be completed in a single term of office,” he said in his State of the Nation address in November last year.
“We give our solemn vow that by the end of 2022, we would have laid an unshakable foundation for the realisation of this vision which is a shared aspiration for millions of Kenyans.”
Of the four key pillars in the agenda, Mr Odinga has focused on healthcare, saying he has the best plan, anchored on a compulsory health insurance scheme.
“From next year, we will make sure that everyone has medical insurance, a universal healthcare system. Those who are unable to pay will have their premiums paid by the government,” Mr Odinga said in Trans Nzoia on Saturday.
The ODM leader said hospitals should no longer hold recovered patients hostage because of unpaid bills.
“We cannot have a situation where the cost of a bed in a hospital is higher than that of Hilton Hotel. We cannot have cases where grieving families cannot bury their kin because the body is being held hostage due to bills,” Mr Odinga said.
On agriculture, Mr Odinga said he will kick out cartels.
“Everywhere in the world - America, United Kingdom, Australia among others, agriculture is being subsidised to ensure that there is food security and this is what we will do and our farmers will get lucrative prices for their produce. In my administration, we will jail all those cartels who have infiltrated the maize sector,” he said.
On manufacturing, Mr Odinga has promised that his administration will give a tax holiday to people starting small businesses.
“Those who want to start a business need to get a loan from the government and they should not pay any interest until after seven years. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) should not suffocate these small businesses,” he said, adding.
For Dr Ruto, he has promised to deliver four million jobs each year, which he says can be done through investments in manufacturing and taxpayer-funded affordable housing programmes.
“Through our bottom-up economic model, we will execute the Big Four agenda by setting aside Sh100 billion. The President is retiring next year and the person he planned the Big Four Agenda with is not the Nasa guys. I planned the Big Four with Uhuru Kenyatta," he said.
Continuing with the Big Four agenda is especially key for the next President given the slow progress of its implementation thus far.
On housing, for example, the Parliamentary Budget Office, which advises MPs on budget and finances, said President Kenyatta will not achieve the projected 500,000 affordable homes, with only 1,370 units built so far under the programme.
The current budget provides Sh12 billion for 3,336 units by the end of the 2021-22 financial year.
The team also cites failures in large-scale irrigation schemes, slow uptake of textile and leather subsector interventions, failures in post-harvest handling mechanisms, and challenges in reforming the national health insurer and setting up a universal health coverage scheme.
“Since 2021-22 is the last ‘full’ financial year of implementation, it is apparent that many of the Big Four targets will not be met by the current administration,” PBO said on June 10.
“Resources appear to have simply followed previous trends with the bulk being allocated to education and infrastructure sectors, as has often been the case. . . There hasn’t been any real commitment towards implementation of the Big Four agenda.”
Reporting by Patrick Lang’at, Gerald Bwisa and Onyango K’Onyango