The Government will release the Cash Transfer funds at the same time with salaries of civil servants, Deputy President William Ruto has said.
Mr Ruto said measures have been put in place to ensure the Cash Transfer Programme funds which benefit, older persons, orphans, vulnerable children and persons living with disabilities were paid without delays.
Speaking during the official opening of the 2nd Kenya Social Protection Conference held at the School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi, on Wednesday, the Deputy President asked those managing the programme to ensure the beneficiaries were paid at the same time as salaries of civil servants.
The theme of the conference was ‘we want to scale up investment in Social Protection to realize the delivery of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Present were Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), UNICEF’s Representative Werner Schultink, MPs Ali Wario (Parliamentary Labour and Social Welfare Committee chairman), his Senate counterpart Johnstone Sakaja, David Sankok (Nominated), Isaac Mwaura (nominated) and Kiprotich Cherargei (Nandi).
The Deputy President said the Government has also invested heavily in technology to strengthen the delivery of its services through digital platforms, saying this will also help in the managements of its resources.
“I am now optimistic that with the measures that the Government put in place including investments in technology, the beneficiaries of the Cash Transfer Programme will soon be receiving their money at the same time with civil servants,” said Mr Ruto.
The Deputy President, at the same time, said all the 1.3 million beneficiaries of the Cash Transfer Programme would be enrolled into the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).
“It is my pleasure to announce here that the 1.3 million citizens who include 365,232 orphans and vulnerable children, 530,000 elderly persons over the age of 70 and 89,992 people in the Hunger Safety Net programme will be enrolled into NHIF,” said Mr Ruto.
The Deputy President said the Government in the last four years, has invested heavily in social protection programmes with a focus on improving safety net services.
“The Government has spent Sh 66billion on the cash transfer programmes for needy and vulnerable populations including orphans and senior citizens allocating more funds every year across the board,” said Mr Ruto.
He went on: “In the current financial year, the Government has allocated a total amount of Sh 25billion to cash transfer programmes.”
He said elderly citizens under the Government’s Cash Transfer Programme would also be enjoying free medical cover as part of enhanced welfare for the aged.
Mr Ruto said the Government intends to enlist all Kenyans aged 70 years and above into NHIF and pay for their monthly contributions to enable them access free medical services.
“Still on the subject of good news, I wish to announce that, in the next few days, senior citizens aged 70 years and above will start receiving payments as part of the enhanced Inua Jamii 70+ programme,” said Mr Ruto.
“This is one of the major promises that the Jubilee administration made during our campaigns last year and we are delighted to make this promise a reality,” he added.
Mr Ruto said for decades, Sub-Saharan Africa has been the illustration of under-development in the social protection sector.
He said experts have decried the lack of political will, saying ‘this is squarely the problem of the past in our country’.
The Deputy President said Kenya has made significant milestones since the last Social Protection Conference that was hosted in Nairobi, in 2015.
He said the Government has fully embraced among the key issues raised in 2015, a more coordinated approach in the implementation of social protection interventions.
The Deputy President said he was confident that the forum will provide a significant opportunity and valuable platform to learn and share experiences by actors in the social protection arena to make the programme successful.
“We look forward to actionable outcomes that will shape the social protection agenda going forward,” said Mr Ruto.
Mr Schultink said UNICEF and its partners would continue to work with the Government in expanding its capacity to cover more cases of vulnerable children across the country.
“I want to reaffirm our continued support of all agencies including our partners in ensuring the success of the implementation of the programme and the Big Four agenda,” said Mr Schultink.
Mr Oparanya said the Kakamega cash transfer programme has so far benefitted 45,000 people in the county.
He said three percent of the funds allocated to health department in the county are used for the programme.
“We will work closely with the national government in ensuring that there is no duplication of the programme,” said Mr Oparanya.
Mr Yattani said his ministry has come up with a pragmatic approach in reaching the most deserving cases to benefit from the programme across the country.