Injecting professionalism in public service at the Presidency
While recently announcing his Cabinet nominees, President William Ruto adjusted his government’s structure, including creating six advisory offices.
The six nonpolitical offices functionally domiciled in the President’s office have been tasked to provide independent advisory services to the Head of State on vital national development touchpoints. Alongside economic transformation, the touchpoints include climate change, national security and fiscal budgetary functions.
The respective offices will also provide a technical liaison platform for the private sector to access the teams, providing a bridge to the President on policy formulation, analysis, cooperation and intervention. For example, the private sector will have an effective route to address matters of tax predictability through the office of the Chairperson, Council of Economic Advisors or Office of the Head of Economic Transformation. Proposals on the management of SIM cards to curb SIM swapping by unscrupulous persons will be best handled by the Office of the National Security Advisor.
Undoubtedly, the formulation of these offices and Cabinet-level domicile is a step in the right direction for President Ruto and provides a solid foundation for the realization of the Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda 2022 – 2027. The creation of the six offices provides the secretariat a platform for generating sound operating plans based on well-considered technical advice, guiding presidential and government decision-making.
As per the Executive Order Number 1 of 2022, the six new offices are:
1. Office of the Council of Economic Advisors
2. Office of the National Security Advisor
3. Office of the Women Rights Advisor
4. Office of the Council of Climate Change Advisor
5. Office of Fiscal Affairs and Budget Policy
6. Office of Economic Transformation
To an extent, the creation of the offices also proves that President Ruto’s government is strategically working to reduce the cost of living, eradicate hunger, create jobs, expand the tax revenue base and improve our foreign exchange balance. The creation of the Fiscal Affairs and Budget Policy office, for example, provides relief that the government is committed to fiscal consolidation. The Women Charter signed at the height of the General Election campaigns will also gain the necessary muscle courtesy of the Office of the Women’s Rights Advisor. All indicators are clear that the Office of the Council of Economic Advisors, chaired by Economist David Ndii and which also counts Agricultural Research & Policy Analyst, Dr Nancy Laibuni, as an associate member, will play a vital role in the national economic policy-making and analysis process for priority sectors. The Council of Economic Advisors will mirror former President Mwai Kibaki’s acclaimed National Economic and Social Council that mid-wifed the Vision 2030 national development strategy. Several captains of industry and professionals drawn from the public and private sectors are expected to be named and co-opted to the council in the coming days.
The Office of Fiscal Affairs and Budget Policy, headed by former National Treasury Principal Secretary, Dr Kamau Thugge, will play a key role in providing technical capacity to aid the President in making independent and prudent budgetary decisions. This office has been long overdue and had been considered during former President Kenyatta’s first term to corroborate with the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). Back then, the idea was to set up an Office of Management and Budget under the Presidency to produce a President’s Budget working with the PBO. Dr Thugge’s office will closely mirror the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB), formerly the Bureau of the Budget. In the United States, the OMB is considered to be the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP) and there is a high chance the same will be true of Dr Thugge’s office.
Locally, the PBO has been playing a leading role in providing members of the National Assembly with well-researched budget proposals and advisory notes that guide their legislative work.
At the President’s Office of Economic Transformation, headed by Development Economist, Dr Augustine Cheruiyot, the Economic Transformation Imperative espoused in the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda 2022 – 2027 will be in good hands. Dr Cheruiyot has been a long-serving ally of President Ruto and previously served as his chief advisor on food security and agriculture. The office will spearhead the rollout of the bottom-up approach, which will focus on investing the limited capital available where it will create the most jobs. The economic transformation plan is founded on a commitment to invest Sh500 billion over the next five years in smallholder agriculture and the informal sector.
The head of the Office of Council of Climate Change Advisor is yet to be announced, but the shape and form of the docket are all too clear. President Ruto has promised to inaugurate the Climate Change Council in the coming days. The council, which will feature technical expertise through representation from competent persons, will steer Kenya’s climate action through stakeholder engagements coordinated in the Presidency, as required by the Climate Change Act, 2016.
The Office of the National Security Advisor headed by Amb (Dr) Monica Juma will enjoy Cabinet Secretary-level status. The office will play a key role in facilitating National Security Policy Direction and Leadership, including technical contributions to fine-tune the National Security Policy and Strategy. Amb (Dr) Juma, the immediate Cabinet Secretary for Energy, has also previously served as the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Defence and that of Foreign Affairs. She is a distinguished diplomat with grounded expertise in strategic management, policy-making and analysis in international affairs, defence, peace, security and governance.
The Office of the Women Rights Advisor headed by Lawyer Harriett Chiggai will play a key role in ensuring the effective participation of women in economic and national development. The office will roll out programmes promised by President Ruto and captured in the Women’s Charter. Among other initiatives, the office will project manage and ensure the delivery of financial and capacity-building support for women through the hustler fund for women-led co-operative societies, chamas, merry-go-rounds and table banking initiatives and protect them from predatory interest rates charged by unscrupulous money lenders. The office will also track the upholding of the two-thirds gender rule in elective and appointive positions in the Public Sector, among other initiatives that foster inclusion for women in political, economic and social facets.