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To sell or not to sell KICC? How to influence the government’s decision

The National Treasury has extended an invitation to Kenyans, encouraging them to share their thoughts on the government’s privatisation efforts, including the iconic Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC).

This initiative aligns with the Constitution and the Privatisation Act of 2023.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u stated that public participation is a crucial aspect of the process.

He said, “The National Treasury invites members of the public to submit written comments and/or input/memoranda on the 2023 Privatisation Programme, in the prescribed format and send them electronically to or through post or hand-delivered to the following address on or before the close of business on Monday, December 11, 2023.”

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This move persists despite the High Court’s suspension of the sale of 11 parastatals following a case presented by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The Kenya Kwanza Administration aims to privatise several government-owned enterprises and affiliated corporations to enhance their standards and competitiveness.

The entities earmarked for privatisation include KICC, Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB), National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK), Kenya Seed Company Limited (KSC), Mwea Rice Mills Ltd (MRM), Western Kenya Rice Mills Ltd (WKRM), Kenya Pipeline Company Limited (KPC), New Kenya Cooperative Creameries Limited (NKCC), Numerical Machining Complex Limited (NMC), Vehicle Manufacturers Limited (KVM), and Rivatex East Africa Limited (REAL).

Regarding KICC, the government pointed out that despite its financial and operational performance, the entity continues to rely on the government’s exchequer for recurrent operations.

The government argues that KICC operates in a mature and competitive market sector, with other private players offering similar services locally and regionally.

Privatisation, they assert, will generate additional revenue for the government and reduce the need for exchequer support.

However, the proposal has sparked diverse reactions from opposition leaders and the public, with concerns that privatising KICC might restrict access to the iconic venue. Opposition leader Raila Odinga warned that privatising Kenya Pipeline Company Limited (KPC) could lead to an increase in fuel prices.