SPEECH BY LABOUR AND SOCIAL PROTECTION CABINET SECRETARY, HON. AMB. UKUR YATTANI, DURING THE CLOSING OF THE 2ND SOCIAL PROTECTION CONFERENCE AT THE KENYA SCHOOL OF MONETARY STUDIES, NAIROBI, ON 23RD MARCH, 2018.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
After three and half days of meticulous discussions covering the width and breadth of theSocial Protection sector, I am happy to be back again on this podium to perform the last ceremony – that of closing an astounding Social Protection Conference.
Indeed, after the wonderful sessions that have been held during this conference, I feel proud and encouraged to stand before you, not to lecturer you about the social protection topic, but to thank you all so profusely for making it to the conference and giving it your undivided attention. Thank you again.
As a matter of fact, there is no time that the popular phrase of great scientist, Isaac Newton, have made more sense to me than today. He said: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” How I feel that I, and indeed many Kenyans, have learnt a lot from this conference from distinguishing giants and experts of social protection! I feel more enabled to see further in the realm of social protection that I did only last week before the conference happened.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This conference has come up with actionable outcomes – indeed called a Call to Action – that will shape the social protection agenda in the coming years. Listening to these resolutions, I can only look at the future of social protection in Kenya and the region with confidence.
You also realize that when our Deputy President, William Ruto, opened the conference on Wednesday, he made it abundantly clear that the Government will enhance all social protection programmes in the country and bring as many beneficiaries as possible to the safety nets. We will remain on this trajectory more than ever before throughsustained coordinationin the implementation of social protection interventions.
We are proud that the social protection sector has been identified as one of the critical enablers of the Government’s driveto achievethe Big Four Agenda which will be implemented over the next five year’s of the Jubilee administration. These are Manufacturing, Affordable housing, Food security, and Universal healthcare. We must therefore work to ensure that social protection remains one of the engines that will drive the transformation of our country.
More fundamentally, we will step upthe process of developing and implementingwatertightsocial protection programmes that cover all sectors in linewith the Constitution and The Kenya Vision 2030.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy that during this forum, credible measures have been suggested that can help us beat some of the challenges that afflict our social protection programmes. Perhaps one of the greatest outcomes of this conference is our Government’s resolutionthatall cash transfer beneficiaries be paid monthly and promptly. This will be a departure from the current situation where we disburse their stipends after every two months. We are confident that beneficiaries will now receive their cash transfers in a timely manner and that they will be able to plan for it in a better manner than before.
It was clear from this conference that greater partnerships arecardinal in the success of social protection programmes. Particularly, I was impressed at the emerging partnerships betweenCounty Governments, National Government and Development Partners in designing and implementing social protection interventions across the country. In doing this, Kenya will keep learning from other countries that have succeeded in this sector, some of which were represented at this conference.
As you heard earlier in this conference, the government’s commitment to social protection has further been underscored by the fact that we are enrolling all of the 1.3 million beneficiaries of social protection programmes into the National Health Insurance Fund this year. This includes the530,000 senior citizens aged 70 and above who will soon start receiving payments as part of the enhanced Inua Jamii 70+ programme.
In making payments for the beneficiaries, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection willtap into our advanced of mobile telephone access to make social protection payments processes faster and easier.
All efforts will be made to ensure that the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection works closely with the Ministry of Planning and National Treasury and other ministries implementing social protection programmes to ensure their sustainability.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Going forward, the Government will continue to pursue all possible means to ensure social protection systems are entrenched in all our national plans.
Additionally, the government will put in place measures to tackle the challenge of having an aging population that is not cushioned through pensions. To this end, the Board of Trustees of the National Social Security Fund, the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), and other stakeholders including the private sector will work together to identify and implement, simple, flexible and transparent terms that will ensure that every person who is working, regardless of where that is, contribute and save enough for their old age.
This will be the best way to avoid the current situation where only 17% of our working populations are beneficiaries of the huge social security industry that is worth Ksh 1 Trillion.
We will also shortly be presenting to Parliament some proposed legislation that are aimed at ensuring that Social Protection programmes are entrenched through a solid legal framework. We are optimistic Parliament will give priority to all legislation that directly touch on the poor and vulnerable groups.
As I end my speech, I want to draw inspiration from the words of Italian Saint Francis of Assisi who said: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” I feel that our country is indeed progressing step-by-step in the ladder of social protection.Soon we will achieve what we thought was a dream.
I want to close by reiterating our commitment to scale up social protection programmes in Kenya.
Finally, I want to convey our immense gratitude to our partners: The World Bank, UNICEF, DFID, the World Food Programme, Helpage and FSD Kenya for supporting the implementation of social protection in Kenya and for supporting this conference.
I wish to thank everyone who, in one way or the other, made this conference the success it was. I wish you all God’s journey mercies as you travel back to your homes – local or abroad.
It is now my humble duty and privilege to declare this second Kenya Social Protection Conference officially closed.