MPs set to vote on Privatisation Bill

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By JOHN NGIRACHU
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MPs are this afternoon set to vote on the Second Reading of a Bill seeking to take from Parliament the power to approve the privatization of State corporations.

Debate on the Privatisation (Amendment) Bill ended last Thursday evening with most of the MPs who spoke about the Bill angry at the government for proposing to reduce their powers in the handling of the privatization process.

They vowed to reject the proposed change to the law. The vote on the Second Reading could not be taken because there were less than the 50 MPs required for the House to be properly constituted.

On Thursday evening, lawmakers from both the Jubilee and the Opposition coalitions described the Bill as meant to pave the way for the corrupt privatisation of parastatals.

The Bill was published in June last year and is sponsored by Majority Leader Aden Duale on behalf of the government.

Mr Duale explained its intention to MPs at the start of its Second Reading and stressed the usefulness of the provisions to have the members of the Privatisation Commission recruited competitively.

He said that while the commissioners’ terms would be liable for extension, this would be subject to a review of their performance.

The Bill gives the Cabinet responsibility over the approval of privatisation proposals, taking it away from Parliament.

But there was little more support for the two-page Bill, with Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, a former minister, leading MPs who criticised the proposed law and the timing of its Second Reading.

“There is nothing good about this law. We are entrenching tribalism and we are entrenching corruption. This law should be rejected before it goes any farther,” said Mr Otieno.

Kibra MP Ken Okoth asked his colleagues to be vigilant to be vigilant as the vote for the Bill could be placed as the first agenda on a day when they wouldn’t have the time to ask questions.

Bura MP Ali Wario said the proposed change would make it easier for individuals eager to get hold of government agencies. He said Kenya had learnt enough lessons from the manner in which the railway was privatised.

Muhoroni MP Onyango Koyoo said that by leaving Parliament out of the privatisation process, it would be left to the Cabinet Secretary responsible for the entity being privatised and its buyers to negotiate.

“I stand to oppose this because I see the sole intention of this amendment is to facilitate theft of the sugar industry,” said Mr Koyoo.

He said the likely target of those behind the Bill is Chemelil and Muhoroni factories in his constituency.

“We should not be used to pass a bad thing. This Parliament is a laughing stock outside there. People out there are wondering how we can pass a Bill here on anti-hopping, that we cannot amend even a comma. Two days later we are told there is something wrong, we are hounded here and surrounded by policemen and it is changed,” said Mr Koyoo.

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