Kenyan court suspends plan to privatise more state-owned firms

Kenya
Kenya’s President William Ruto

On Monday, a court in Kenya put on hold a government plan to begin a new privatization campaign by changing a statute. This decision was made while the court considered a lawsuit that an opposition party had brought against the sales.

Late in November, the Ministry of Finance said it would start proposing to sell its percentage of ownership to eleven different companies. These companies include an oil pipeline, a textbook publisher, and agriculture enterprises.

The eleven enterprises are among the more than thirty-five companies that are in the process of being put up for sale. This is being done partly to assist the government in increasing income against rising debt obligations.

A few days after the announcement, the Orange Democratic Movement, the opposition party, filed a lawsuit to challenge the decision.

Judge Chacha Mwita of the High Court stated that the court had put a hold on any scheduled sales that would be conducted under the modified law, known as the Privatization Act 2023, until February 6.

The request for comment made to the Ministry of Finance officials was not immediately met with a response.

An initial public sale of a 25% share in the Ugandan telecoms company Safaricom (SCOM.NR) was Kenya’s most recent instance of privatizing a state-owned corporation. This occurred in the year 2008.

The president stated in late November that the administration had amended the law that governs the sale of state firms in October to minimize the bureaucracy that had caused the process to come to a complete and utter standstill a few months earlier.

However, others opposed to the modification in the law argue that it removed the parliament’s supervision over the privatization process.

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