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November 18, 2018

Senators oppose plans to privatise state firms

Kenya Pipeline Corporation chairman John Ngumi when he appeared before the Senate Energy Committee yesterday /JACK OWUOR
Kenya Pipeline Corporation chairman John Ngumi when he appeared before the Senate Energy Committee yesterday /JACK OWUOR

Senators have opposed the state’s intention to privatise 26 corporations to raise funds to support the budget.

 The senators, led by Senate Energy Committee chairperson Ephraim Maina said the move is in bad faith and is a set up for the well connected to buy out the firms.

 According to the Nyeri senator, the idea should be blocked until the country wins the war on corruption.

 “We have seen these sorts of entities being under-priced so that those who are well connected can snatch them for zero cents and then make a bucket-load of money after the buyout,” Nakuru senator Susan Kihika said.

 The senators, all members of the Senate Energy Committee, were grilling Kenya Pipeline chairperson John Ngumi on major financial and procurement loopholes at the corporation. 

Kenya Pipeline is among 26 firms listed last week for sale by the Privatization Commission due to poor performance.

 The Privatization Act 2005 listed National Bank of Kenya, Consolidated Bank of Kenya, Kenya Meat Commission, Development Bank of Kenya, East African Portland Cement, Kengen, Kenya Ports Authority, and five sugar millers — Chemilil, Sony, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroni for sale to private owners.

 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 targeted are Kenya Tourism Development Corporation-associated companies, which include International Hotels Kenya Ltd, Kenya Hotels Properties Ltd, Mountain Lodge and Ark Limited. Ngumi said Privatizing the Kenya Pipeline is a wrong move and another ideological fad.

 “We have other state corporations that have been privatized but are still in the red like we are...what we need to do is to make our companies produce results, and be ruthless in firing management,” Ngumi said.

 However, Ngumi, a 63-year-old seasoned investment banker asked the senators to give more powers to the Parastatal boards to run the firms if they will let them be managed by the state. He noted that Kenya Pipeline is a natural target for privatization.

Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina said there is a cartel behind the privatization plan and its aimed at destroying the country.

“As senators we are going to be very firm and there is no time we are going to allow this issue to destroy the country,” Ole Kina said.

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