President Ruto reads riot act to Cabinet in talks
President William Ruto has read the riot act to members of his Executive by warning them against corruption and wastage while directing that services should be fast-tracked.
In yesterday’s session of a meeting with Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and members of the advisory council, the President tasked them to ensure that the government is run efficiently and professionally.
The streamlining of ministries to pursue specific tasks in line with the bottom-up policy also formed the agenda in discussions that were largely held behind closed doors.
“We must never be hostages of bureaucracy and processes. We should be defined by decisions and results,” Dr Ruto said at the four-day retreat in Nanyuki’s Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club.
He went on: “I have said with clarity that each and every one of us must clear their desk once a day. But when you find your desk is piling up with documents, papers and files, then know that something is wrong. Everybody must pull their weight and put their best foot forward and do their best to make sure that we deliver as a team.”
The President warned members of the Executive against derailing government operations through laxity, saying they must all roll up their sleeves and deliver on the Kenya Kwanza manifesto that was presented to Kenyans during the election campaigns last year.
“The overall responsibility of the government of the Republic of Kenya stops at my desk. I make it my business, once a day, to clear my desk. Do not hold the government ransom and do not hold the people of Kenya hostage by allowing files to pile on your desk. When files are sent to your desk, they are not ornamental or gifts but for you to make decisions,” Dr Ruto said.
The four-day retreat in Nanyuki began on Thursday, with the President leading his Cabinet and principal secretaries as well as a retinue of advisers to assess his administration after the first 100 days in office.
“I have called this retreat so that we can have a meeting of minds and agree on the priorities that are listed in our manifesto and to explain to each and every one of us the enormous responsibilities and expectations by the people of Kenya in our administration. We must deliver as one government and everyone has a mandate,” he added.
Dr Ruto directed all ministries to partner with the Information, Communication and Digital Economy ministry, which is led by Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, so as to digitise operations in all government departments and eradicate bureaucracy.
He said bureaucracy in government operations has over the years been denying citizens their right to access crucial services.
“All CSs and PSs must make it their business to work with the Ministry of ICT so that government services in all your departments are digitised in the next six months without unnecessary bureaucracy. It should be possible for our people to access government services on their phones from the comfort of their homes,” Dr Ruto said.
He directed CS Owalo to work with Attorney-General Justin Muturi and National Treasury CS Prof Njuguna Ndung’u to ensure that all government operations are digitised within six months.
“It sends a clear signal to us that technology can make this administration not only professional but also, most importantly, efficient. By doing this, we will close loopholes of loss of government revenue. We have digitised at least 300 government services and I am sure that all the 5,000 government services will be digitised so that we collect every penny that is due to the government of Kenya,” Dr Ruto said.
“It is not necessary to write a letter if a telephone call is sufficient. It is not necessary to make a telephone call if an SMS is sufficient. It is our intention to make sure that government is run efficiently,” he added.
He further challenged members of his Executive to be innovative and package their programmes into investment opportunities so as to allow the private sector to tap into them.
He told Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome to consider rolling out a water harvesting programme that will open up investment opportunities.
“We must be creative and innovative because there are certain areas that we don’t have to use public resources to drive government agenda. With the Ministry of Water, we have agreed that water is a commodity we can sell to our off-takers who want to use it for irrigation. We should be able to package our water harvesting programmes into investment opportunities and get the private sector to come on board,” Dr Ruto said.
He tasked the top State officials to work hard and efficiently without being biased.
“The people of Kenya went to the ballot and signed a contract with me and I share it with each and every one of you. On the ballot, there was the name of Rigathi Gachagua and William Ruto and they signed off and we have a contract. It might not be written in any paper unlike the letter of appointment you have between me and you. I received my letter of appointment on August 9,” Dr Ruto said.
“That letter of appointment has responsibilities and it is solemn and sacred. My request to you, members of my Cabinet, is that we must protect the interests and resources of the millions of people of Kenya who pay tax. The Kenyan people have hired you through me and we are their servants and advocates and that is why we must protect their interests in all our transactions. We must carry their aspirations that must be reflected in every action in government,” the Head of State said.
‘Bottom-up economic model’
Dr Ruto directed members of his Cabinet to ensure that all government departments align their services to the ‘bottom-up economic model’ that is part of the Kenya Kwanza election campaign manifesto while avoiding wastage.
The President said the model should be entrenched in all government departments and parastatals to ensure economic transformation.
“It is expected that this will cascade down to the departments, parastatals and the rest of government as a whole. Our approach towards intervention in the economic sector must be aligned with the ‘bottom-up economic model’. We must be clear that the whole of government approach is bottom-up,” Dr Ruto said.
“For instance, in the agricultural sector, we are recruiting all farmers so that we can service them to realise more productivity. We are going to use technology this time round to support our farmers with whatever subsidy programmes that we have because we want to uplift them economically,” Dr Ruto said.
He directed the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government Kithure Kindiki to ensure that the National Government Administration Officers support all projects that are rolled out by the government.
The government has already launched a programme to register farmers so as to be supported with subsidised fertilizer and other farm inputs. “I have told Prof Kindiki (Interior CS) and his team to make sure that all the national government administration officers support government programmes whether they are implemented by the county or national government for the benefit and interest of the people of the Republic of Kenya,” Dr Ruto said.
The government intends to spend Sh8 billion to subsidise six million bags of fertiliser which will be available to farmers at a lower cost and, hence, lower the cost of food prices due to mass production.
Dr Ruto assured that the next national budget will prioritise the immediate needs of Kenyans with the aim of uplifting their standards of living.
“It is my expectation that every government programme that is in place must assess whatever is in the best interest of Kenyans. We want to ensure that the next budget respects the programmes to the interest of Kenyans since the government is a continuous enterprise,” he said.
Dr Ruto is set to meet governors, senators and Members of Parliament from across the country today in an effort to streamline operations in his administration.
He called on senior government officials to support the new entrants in his administration and advised them to consult whenever they are stuck in crucial decision-making.
“Personally, I want to assure each and every one of you that I will be readily available to mentor the young State officials and assist you to become better public officers. I am requesting the senior members of this team who have served longer to be gracious and support the younger leaders for the future of our country,” Dr Ruto said.
According to sources privy to yesterday’s meeting, facilitators took the new appointees through an engaging session on various topics about governance and productivity.
Tomorrow, the President is expected to attend an interdenominational prayer meeting at Nanyuki Stadium.