President Ruto announces operationalization of PBO Act

President William Ruto. [Standard, File]

President William Ruto has announced the long-awaited operationalization of the Public Benefits Organization (PBO) Act.

The move spells a breath of relief for civil society organisations that have been pushing for the operationalization of the Act since 2012.

 "In recognition of the indispensable capacity of the civil society sector in promoting education and awareness, inclusion, partnership and mobilizing collective action, we committed to operationalizing the Public Benefit Organization Act," Ruto said.

 Speaking during the closing ceremony of the United Nations Civil Society Conference in Nairobi on Friday, May 10, President Ruto disclosed that he has taken decisive action to breathe life into the dormant legislation.

 "This Act stuck in limbo for over a decade yet it was aimed at expanding the space for government and non-governmental organizations partnership and collaboration. We have every intention of living up to our commitment," Ruto added.

 The Head of State revealed he executed the necessary legal instruments to give effect to the PBO Act, effectively transforming it into law.

 "Yesterday we executed the legal instruments to give the PBO Act into effect. We are determined to invigorate our development agenda by harnesing, organizing and advocating the power of the civil society sector," President Ruto said.

 The enactment of the Act heralds a new era for non-profit entities engaging in public benefit activities within Kenya, establishing a robust regulatory framework to govern their operations.

 Central to this framework is the creation of the Public Benefits Organisation Authority (PBOA), a regulatory body tasked with overseeing the registration, monitoring, and regulation of Public Benefits Organisations (PBOs).

 Comprising key stakeholders from government ministries responsible for PBOs, finance, foreign affairs, and civil society representatives, the board of the PBO Authority will assume pivotal roles in guiding the sector's development.

 Among its functions are; registering and de-registering PBOs, advising the Government on their activities and role in national development, maintaining the register, and ensuring compliance with statutory obligations.

 Additionally, the Act envisages the establishment of a National Federation of Public Benefits Organisations, serving as an umbrella entity for registered PBOs and recognised self-regulating forums.

 To address disputes and grievances, the PBO Act establishes a PBO Disputes Tribunal, offering an alternative mechanism for redress outside the standard judicial process.

 Ruto further said the government will continue to create space for youth to thrive.

 "It is our responsibility to meaningfully involve the youth in shaping the future by consistently taking deliberate steps to dismantle barriers hindering their participation in political and public life," he said.

  He hailed civil society for its key role that has always impacted positively to society.

 "Your role in championing policies that address the special needs of multi and diverse constituencies, fostering change and ensuring social justice advocacy for rights of minorities, transparency and accountability, is integral to any meaningful development," he said.