Murathe vows to fight government plan to privatise state corporations

Jubilee Party Vice-Chairman David Murathe.[Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Jubilee Party Vice-Chairman David Murathe says he will challenge the government’s plan to privatise 35 State corporations, saying they are symbols of Kenya and should not be sold to private investors.

Murathe was speaking on Spice FM on Thursday, November 30, where he accused civil servants and 'cartels' of driving the privatisation agenda.

“The problem actually is that this country is driven by civil servants and if you joke with them, they can bring you down and that is why there is a funny marriage between politicians and civil servants. Cartels are in government and in bed with the private sector,” claimed Murathe.

The Jubilee Party Vice chairperson cited the example of China, where he said State corporations are efficient and have lifted millions of people out of poverty.

“Look at the privatisation for example that they are talking about, do you know why China has succeeded in removing people out of poverty? It is because the corporations...the things that work are government-owned. Those companies you see here from China are State corporations but if you try and do something wrong they hang you, they don’t waste time,” he said.

He claimed that some of the corporations earmarked for privatisation such as the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) and Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB), are landmarks for the country and should not be sold to foreign companies.

“These are Kenyan symbols... then you go there is a company in Dubai which has bought KICC and when you go to Dubai you find that it’s 'David Murathe,” he said.

“This is something we are going to fight. They removed the law that these things have to go to Parliament before they are privatised, now they can just wake up like a finance minister and say I am privatising Kenya Pipeline.”

Murathe added that former President Uhuru Kenyatta had appointed a taskforce to look into the privatisation of state corporations but never implemented the report because he believed they could be made more efficient.

 “Uhuru thought you can actually make Mumias, Muhoroni or Chemelil sugar companies efficient and if the private companies can do it, why can’t Mumias Sugar Company do it?” he posed. 

Last week, President William Ruto said the government was ready to privatise 35 State companies “trapped in government bureaucracy” in a bid to boost productivity following a change to laws.

This is after he signed a revised Privatisation bill into law that makes it easier to sell State enterprises to private companies.

Ruto said the revised law aims to push up the private sector’s participation in the economy.

Kenya last privatised a state-owned company in 2008 with an initial public offering (IPO) for 25 per cent of the shares in telecommunications firm Safaricom.

In a notice on November 27, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u invited members of the public to give their views on the plans to hand over the institutions to private investors.

According to the CS, the move to privatise the companies is geared towards the government’s efforts for fiscal consolidation and spurring economic development.

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