Wednesday, February 3, 2010

GRAND COALITION SHOULD CRAFT A LEANER CABINET

As the Country gears for a grand coalition government soon, many Kenyans will want to see a leaner Cabinet that will put the country on a firm fiscal footing. It’s an acid test for our leaders to put into consideration the plight of Kenya ’s overburdened taxpayers when crafting the Cabinet. Indeed, if the grand coalition comes up with a bloated cabinet like in the past, our leaders will be doing a disservice to Kenyans whose taxes maintains the big government. The hefty fringe benefits, including salaries that come with a single cabinet position are high. The last government of President Kibaki was too big costly and thus a toll to the Country’s exchequer. This was total fiscal indiscipline. The President being a respected economist would have known better. We don’t want to see the same mistake is repeated, when Country’s economy is on a downward trend as a result of the post election fiasco. A bloated cabinet does not always ensure efficiency. It brings in a duplication of roles; creating confusion, lack of coordination, inefficiency, and rivalry. We don’t want to see a mutation of bureaucracy with little value to the citizens and the economy. Kenya has the best opportunity to dramatically downsize its cabinet and set the stage for Africa ; a Continent currently littered with bloated governments. There is no need of having the Ministry of Defense when we have the Internal Security docket. Planning and National Development should be fused with the Finance Ministry. East African Community, Livestock and Fisheries, Cooperative Development, Information and Broadcasting, should be made departments in the key Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Transport and communications respectively. A lean Cabinet will create administrative functions that are financially sound hence, allowing more budget Shillings to be injected for necessary programs that benefit the neediest in our society. Therefore, Honourable Raila; Prime Minister designate, and President Kibaki should mind about the impact of poverty; the root cause of suffering for majority of our people to give Kenya a small government by avoiding to reward their friends with Cabinet positions. This is the best opportunity for our leaders to learn from richer countries like, the US , France , Britain and Germany with small cabinets. In fact their financial base can sustain big cabinets but they operate on strict fiscal discipline, a big lesson for Kenya which is a third World Country. It’s so shameful when our leaders ask for Japanese Aid; the World second largest economy with one of the smallest cabinet of 17 Ministers. The expectations of Kenyans are very high as we look forward to see the best brains under the same umbrella in a coalition government. Members of Parliament from PNU and ODM should avoid focussing on Cabinet appointments but instead focus on the legislative agenda, effective governance, democratic accountability and articulating issues that are essential for the electorates and the nation in Parliament. Seeing our leaders politick on who should get what is an economic tragedy and a reflection of greed. It can be remembered that the best performers in Kenya ’s Parliament like: Martin Shikuku, the late George Anyona, James Orengo, JM Kariuki, Koigi Wa Wamwere and Paul Muite rarely occupied Cabinet positions. They will always be remembered for their positive parliamentary contributions. Kenyans want to see a strong Parliament that will enact laws; debate national issues check the activities of the government and in general promote the welfare of Kenyans. The 10th Parliament should have a paradigm shift from lobbying for positions in the Cabinet as if it’s the only way their skills and expertise can be utilized. The men and women who are likely to be appointed to the Cabinet should use their skills run the affairs of this country in the Cabinet with dedication, professionalism, transparency, accountability and fairness. My word to those who will not be in the Cabinet is to aggressively participate in parliamentary motions. Those who hold positions in parliamentary committees should take their deliberations seriously as its part of our national governance systems to serve the general good of this Country. Kenyans are waiting to separate the grain from the chaff and the cream from the milk. We demand demand ethical and responsible representation but a small Cabinet will be a saviour for the tax payers. We want to see the size of a government that will not spend our money for things that does not enhance our lives.
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