Utamaduni Day now Mazingira Day as October 10 holiday renamed again

President William Ruto signs the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2024 into law at State House, Nairobi. [PCS]

President William Ruto has assented the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2024 into law that amends various provisions of 16 Acts of Parliament.

Public Holidays Act

In a bold step towards environmental protection and conservation, the Bill amends the Public Holidays Act, renaming Utamaduni Day as Mazingira Day to be observed on October 10 every year.

Mazingira Day will be a day for all Kenyans to engage in environmental conservation activities, including tree planting and growing.

This move is in line with the government's push to accelerate the 10-year fifteen billion tree-planting program that includes forest, wetland, and rangeland restoration.

To strengthen human resource operations in the Attorney-General's office, the Office of the Attorney-General Act has been amended to introduce an advisory board that will recommend for appointment and promotion of deputy solicitors-general and State counsel.

The board comprises the Attorney-General as chairperson, Principal Secretaries of Public Service and the National Treasury, the Public Service Commission chairperson, the Law Society of Kenya President, and the chair of the Council of the Institute of Human Resource Management as members.

This change aims to address the issue of inadequate personnel to fulfill its functions, stemming from poor terms of employment for State counsel and the absence of a comprehensive scheme of service for the officers.

Traffic Act

The Traffic Act has also been amended to incorporate the use of technology in the management of minor traffic offenses.

The Value Added Tax Act has also been amended to remove denatured ethanol from the list of VAT-exempt supplies. This creates an economic safety net and competitive edge for local denatured ethanol manufacturers, particularly millers and sugar manufacturers, who face challenges with cheaper imports.

It also exempts the supply of gas meters from VAT to enhance access to clean energy by low-income households.

Universities Act

On the Universities Act, the amendment gives the President power to establish more than one specialised degree-awarding institution specialising in national security issues.

In another amendment, the National Intelligence Service has been exempted from applying the Employment Act, mirroring exemptions granted to other national security organs.

Another amendment to the Industrial Training Act aligns the remittance date of the training levy with PAYE remittance to the Kenya Revenue Authority, aiming to boost employer compliance.

This is meant to enhance KRA collections, which will fund intern wages and support technical and vocational education training and higher education operations.

To streamline the administration of justice, the new law amends the Oaths and Statutory Declarations Act to replace the Registrar of the High Court with the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary as the custodian of the roll of commissioners and give powers to administer oaths to the registrar and deputy registrar of superior and subordinate courts.

Advocates Act

Similarly, the Advocates Act has been amended to replace the Registrar of the High Court with the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary as well as give the Council of the Law Society of Kenya additional powers to make rules on the admission of advocates to the Bar.

Additionally, the new law amends the Notaries Public Act to replace the Registrar of the High Court with the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary.

Also amended in the miscellaneous law is the Sexual Offences Act, with the Registrar of the High Court replaced by the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary as the person responsible for keeping and maintaining a register of convicted sexual offenders.

The Trustee (Perpetual Succession) Act, too, has been amended to assign the Registrar of Companies the responsibility for trust registration, issuing certificates of incorporation, maintaining trust registers, and creating regulations. This aims to streamline trust registration procedures.

The Public Finance Management Amendments Act aims to clarify that the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury must submit the Finance Bill to the National Assembly by April 30 in line with the Act, the National Assembly Standing Orders, and court rulings.

The signing ceremony was held at State House Nairobi in the presence of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, and Attorney General Justin Muturi, among others.