Retain Parliament's role in privatizing state firms


Parliament in session. FILE PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

The proposal for the sale of public assets by the Executive without proper oversight by Parliament raises questions about the new administration's commitment to the fight against corruption and accountability.

In its quest to speed up the privatisation of loss-making State-owned companies straining public resources, the Treasury seeks to exclude Parliament from approving the sales.

The government-backed Privatisation Bill, which aims to replace the 2005 law, will offer the Treasury more powers in selling parastatals, including identifying and determining entities to be included in the privatisation programme.

The need to offload these moribund firms cannot be gainsaid as it will relieve taxpayers of the burden of sustaining them, freeing the resources to be spent on development projects.

Be that as it may, there can be no shortcuts in the privatisation process.

Members of Parliament, when they take their oversight role with the seriousness it deserves and scrutinise the Executive without playing partisan politics, safeguard the interests of the Kenyan people.

Currently, the Treasury Cabinet Secretary submits a report in the form of a sessional paper on a privatisation proposal approved by the Cabinet to the National Assembly for consideration.

But the proposed law will allow the Treasury Cabinet Secretary to approve the sale of State assets together with the board of the privatisation authority, excluding lawmakers.

We hope Parliament amends the proposed changes to enhance transparency and accountability and seal any loopholes for exploitation.