Senate to oppose bid to privatise State agencies

Senate will oppose the privatisation of State corporations on grounds  the matter is being conducted in secrecy to benefit a cartel out to buy the entities at throw-away prices.

The senators are also concerned that some profit-making corporations have been listed for sale whereas underperforming ones have been left out.

Already, the Privatisation Commission has approved sale of 26 corporations to raise funds to support the budget.

Members of the Energy committee of the Senate warned that selling the corporations, including Kenya Ports Authority and the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC)was in itself a national security concern.

“We are concerned that the whole process is shrouded in confusion. Leaving some of the corporations to private citizens will be a national security concern. How can we as a country privatise the port which is a major entry point to the country?” committee chair Ephraim Maina asked.

KPC chairman John Ngumi said the board will oppose any proposal to dispose of the agency, saying its performance has been on an upward trajectory.

He said the government should allow the parastatals to operate autonomously instead of privatising them.

Senators Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Ledama ole Kina (Narok), said the country has learnt from the past that privatisation of State entities was a cash-minting venture by a few individuals.

“Powerful cartels are currently readying to purchase the corporations at throw-away prices. The cartels must know that we are watching and will not allow them to succeed,” said Kina.

The commission, under the Privatisation Act, 2005, was mandated to sell 26 poorly performing State corporations to cut down government spending.

Agencies earmarked for sale are National Bank of Kenya, Consolidated Bank of Kenya, Kenya Meat Commission, Development Bank of Kenya, East African Portland Cement, Kengen, Kenya Pipeline Corporation, Kenya Ports Authority, and five sugar millers — Chemilil, Sony, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroni.

Others are Agrochemical and Food Corporation, New Kenya Co-operative Creameries, Numerical Machining Complex and Isolated Power stations, hotels (Kabarnet Hotel, Mt Elgon Lodge Ltd, Golf Hotel Ltd, Sunset Hotel Ltd and Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels Ltd).

Also earmarked are Kenya Tourism Development Corporation-associated companies, which include International Hotels Kenya Ltd, Kenya Hotels Properties Ltd, Mountain Lodge Ltd and Ark Ltd.

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