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DELAYS IN PARASTATAL REFORMS POLITICALY INSTIGATED?

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President Uhuru appointed the taskforce to oversee the review of parastals in a bid to curb wastage of public funds and enhance productivity

Eight months after The Presidential Task Force on Parastatal Reforms submitted their recommendations, the same is yet to be effected and speculation is rife that changes might be facing political opposition.

In November last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta approved a shake-up of public institutions that would see the number of parastatals reduced from 262 to 187, following the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force which was led by the President’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Adviser, Mr Abdikadir Mohammed and Mr Isaac Awuondo, CEO Commercial Bank of Africa.

Uhuru had appointed the taskforce to oversee the review of parastals in a bid to curb wastage of public funds and enhance productivity.

Two Bills, the Government Owned Entities Bill 2014 (GOE) and the National Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill 2014 that are set to give legal framework for the shake-up are yet to be tabled in parliament for debate although have already been published.

The GOE Bill intends to ensure that parastatals adopt a leaner and more efficient structure, meaning some State firms will have to be shut down or merged with others to avoid a duplication of roles.

The National Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill on the other hand revamps how the Government manages its shareholding in listed companies like KCB, National Bank among others. It also considers how Kenya’s new-found mineral wealth will be managed and seeks to establish a wealth fund.

According to the Standard Newspaper, a member of the Presidential Task Force has expressed fears that the two Bills may face stiff opposition in Parliament as powerful parastatal chiefs who stand to loose once the new changes are effected lobby members of parliament to oppose the Bills. (http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2000128998/truth-behind-delay-in-parastatal-reforms-months-after-president-uhuru-kenyatta-s-directive?pageNo=1)

The GOE was scheduled to be in place by June 30, 2014 but according to a progress report by the Parastatal Reform Implementation Committee (PRIC) lack of public and stakeholder consultations is what has contributed to the delay.

NEW MERGES

Under the new recommendations by the Presidential Task Force on Parastatals Reforms;

The Kenya Industrial Property Institute, the Anti-Counterfeit Agency and the Kenya Copyright Board will be merged into one parastatal; the Kenya Intellectual and Industrial Property Corporation.

The Kenya Forest Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Kenya Water Towers Agency will also be consolidated to form the Kenya Wildlife and Forest Service. The Brand Kenya Board, the Export Promotion Council and KenInvest will now be part of the Kenya Investment Corporation (KIC).

Among the parastatals proposed for dissolution is the Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board, National Social Security Assistance Authority, Privatisation Commission, Kenya Rural Roads Authority, Kenya Urban Roads Authority, Canning Crops Board, Tourism Research Institute, Kenya Coconut Development Authority, Cereals and Sugar Finance Corporation, Coffee Development Fund and Cotton Development Fund.

The state corporations employ a total of 119,689 workers with an annual bill of over sh131.2 billion.

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