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Uhuru targets MPs in push for conflict of interest law

Thursday December 12 2019

Uhuru Jamhuri Day

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe and Deputy President William Ruto attending the 56th Jamhuri Day Celebrations at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on December 12, 2019. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday directed quick approval of the conflict of interest law, noting that some parliamentarians have been practising law instead of focusing on public service.

While speaking about the war on corruption, which he said will continue untill all culprits are weeded out, he noted that State and public officers are not above the law.

As such, Mr Kenyatta said, they cannot serve as legislators at the national or county level while practising law, whether for gain or not.

“The same way, judges and magistrates cease completely any legal practice while in office, doctors, engineers, accountants and other professionals who take up State or public office should give up private practice and devote their full time, energies and focus on public duties," he said.

The President said such officials should not be seen as using their offices as platforms for advancing their personal in as a platform to advance personal interests at the expense of public service.

“The position is simple; you either serve the public in the role you signed up for or you serve the republic as a private practitioner. It is a profound conflict of interest to do both,” he said and directed the Attorney-General to fast-track submission of the law to the Cabinet for approval and its subsequent transmittal to Parliament.

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He spoke at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on Thursday during celebrations to make the 56th Jamhuri Day, an occasion which Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley attended.

TAX BURDEN

President Kenyatta also directed the Kenya Revenue Authority and the National Treasury to immediately embark on an overhaul of Kenya’s tax regime to ease the burden on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The President said Kenya’s economic growth figures have been impressive but the tax burden has to be reduced so that more people benefit.

He said the government is focused on unlocking bottlenecks holding back the potential of Kenyan enterprises. 

“My administration is focused on salient factors holding back the potential of our enterprises; particularly with regard to taxes and tax administration, and reduction or elimination of fees levied by government agencies as well as the private sector,” he said.

The Head of State said the government is determined to eliminate bureaucracy and simplification of processes in trade, access to credit and consumer protection.

“In order to address some of these challenges, I order and direct that The National Treasury and the Kenya Revenue Authority review our tax structures, especially in relation to small businesses, so as to reduce the tax burden while fostering tax-compliance,” he said.

COURT FEES

The President also directed the National Treasury and the Judiciary to come up with mechanisms to ensure that commercial disputes below the value of Sh1 million are exempted from court fees.

Mr Kenyatta further said all employer contributions or deductions for NSSF, NHIF, PAYE and NITA will be made through a unified payroll return submitted to the KRA, the goal being to reduce the compliance burden.

Following the successful launch of SME financing programme STAWI, the President said the government will soon introduce products such as Stawisha SME Mashinani and take other administrative measures to enable SMEs to play their rightful role in the economic transformation agenda.

Mr Kenyatta said the government will continue making Kenya more attractive for direct foreign investment and sustain regulatory reforms that have seen the country improve in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index.

He said the sustained reforms will continue cementing Nairobi’s place as a diplomatic hub and Kenya’s position as an economic power house in the region.

LEGACY

The Head of State noted that he wants to leave a legacy of governance in which institutions outlive individuals.

“A nation is only as strong as its institutions. Personalities come and go but institutions endure and outlast us all. It is therefore my intention to ensure we fully institutionalise our governance and administrative principles and values as laid out in our Constitution and other laws,” he said.

He acknowledged the role public servants play in making Kenya realise its potential.

“Most of our civil servants are hardworking and selfless. They are akin to our freedom fighters who braved awful conditions in forests to wage a righteous war for independence against the colonising power,” the President said.

On the Building Bridges Initiative, President Kenyatta said Kenyans have an opportunity to use its proposals to create a united nation.