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Kenyan President William Ruto shakes hands with Attorney General Justin Muturi after signing the 2023 Privatisation Bill into law at State House, Kisumu, as Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua looks on, October 9, 2023. (Photo courtesy: Kenyan Presidency)

Kenya’s Ruto assents to bill that allows Treasury to privatise public-owned enterprises

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Kenyan President William Ruto signed on Monday the Privatisation Bill 2023, which gives the country’s Ministry of National Treasury and Economic Planning powers to privatise public-owned enterprises without seeking approval from Parliament.

The new law is aimed at speeding up the privatisation process of targeted entities which the government deems “non-strategic or loss-making”.

Sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party Kimani Ichung’wah, the Bill also provides for the establishment of the Privatisation Authority, which shall advice the government on all aspects of privatisation of public entities and facilitate the implementation of government policies on privatisation.

Ichung’wah was among top government officials that flanked the president when he signed the bill into law at State House, Kisumu. Other leaders present, included Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Parliament Speaker Moses Wetangula and Attorney General Justin Muturi.

Under the new law in place, privatisation of public entities will be done through initial public offering of shares, sale of shares by public tender, sale resulting from the exercise of pre-emptive rights or through any other method that will be defined by the Cabinet.

The law provides that the proceeds from the sale of a direct National Government shareholding shall be paid into the existing Consolidated Fund.

It further provides that the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Economic Planning shall provide policy direction on matters related to privatisation, co-ordinate the adherence to national, regional and international obligations relating to privatisation, develop and formulate of the privatisation programme, and oversee the administration of the act.

According to the presidency, the law encourages more participation of the private sector in the economy by shifting the production and delivery of products and services from the public sector.

It added that the law also improves the infrastructure and delivery of public services through the involvement of private capital and expertise.

The Privatisation Act of 2005 requires the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Economic Planning to appoint members to the Privatisation Commission through a competitive process and approval by the National Assembly.

According to Nairobi-based The Star newspaper, the Privatisation Commission has lined up 25 entities for state divestiture including the Kenya Pipeline Company, the Kenya Ports Authority, the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation, the Consolidated Bank, the Development Bank of Kenya and the Agrochemical and Food Corporation.

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