‘It is imperfect and unfinished’ – Raila says on NADCO report
Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition party leader Raila Odinga has termed the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) report as "imperfect and unfinished", but " a good start".
In a statement on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, Raila expressed reservations on the report for failing to propose tangible ways to reduce the cost of living.
He however blamed it on Kenya Kwanza's side, accusing them of being reluctant to address the issue.
"The document the team has come up with is, ultimately, imperfect and unfinished. But it is a beginning. We have agreed to disagree on the most important matter to us. We made what believed were reasonable proposals on how to address the rising cost of living. But the government side flatly refused terming it their exclusive business and further arguing that they got the mandate of Kenyans to execute their Kenya Kwanza economic agenda," Raila stated.
"We will be engaging Kenyans further in the coming weeks as we must because the pain of the cost of living is really unbearable."
Raila however commended NADCO for its recommendations on electoral justice which entails audit of the 2022 election process, restructuring and reconstitution of the IEBC and an increase of the timelines for the Supreme Court to hear and determine a presidential election petition from 14 to 21 days.
The committee also agreed on the transfer of all devolved functions and the requisite resources to the county governments.
NADCO has also proposed an amendment to the Constitution to provide for the equitable share to the County Governments to not less than 20 per cent of all revenue collected by the National Government from the current 15 per cent and the establishment of the Ward Development Fund.
"We believe that these are significant reform mileages that, if implemented, can help strengthen our governance and electoral processes and safeguard the march of democracy in Kenya," he added.
Raila on referendum
To achieve some of the issues proposed by the committee, the opposition leader says the country must hold a referendum.
Among the issues that Raila proposes to be decided by way of referendum include the creation of the office of the leader of the opposition and formalizing the office of the prime cabinet secretary.
"We also support the document with a proviso that certain aspects must be approved by the people by way of a referendum. Besides it is a constitutional requirement that such significant restructuring of government must go through a referendum to avoid the mischief that may be played by some people going to court," Raila added.
The opposition chief wants the country to decide whether it will be governed through a parliamentary, presidential or hybrid system.
Reducing cost of living
Raila says the Azimio team in the dialogue committee proposed several ways to reduce the cost of living, including a complete overhaul of the Finance Act 2023, reducing travel budgets by 50 per cent and also reducing the Daily Subsistence Allowances for State and Public Officers by 30 per cent.
Other measures proposed by Azimio include reducing the road maintenance levy and the anti-adulteration levy by Ksh5 and Ksh3 per litre respectively and reducing VAT on fuel from 16 per cent to 8 per cent. Azimio also wanted the government to scrap the housing levy or make it voluntary.
"Unfortunately, Kenya Kwanza would not budge. We realized that without the goodwill of the top echelons of the Kenya Kwanza leadership, cost of living was never going to be addressed. They told our team that cost of living was a government issue; that they have a manifesto and the mandate of the people of Kenya to implement it," Raila added.
The opposition says it will explore different ways to lower the cost of living, including "consultations" with the people.
"We made it clear that we will support the document ensuing from the talks but we will treat the hardline on the cost of living as the beginning of another phase of this struggle. We will seek other ways to press the government to listen to the cries of the people and bring down the cost of living. The other ways will include but will not be limited to consultations with the people. At all times, we will retain the right to call on the people to take steps that we deem necessary to force the government to lower the cost of living," he added.