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Govt woos Kenya private sector

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17- The government has been urged to be more proactive with projects that it intends to undertake in conjunction with the private sector so as to increase their rates of success.

Industrialisation Assistant Minister Nderitu Muriithi said on Monday that the public sector must own projects such as those involving infrastructure development and flagship programmes outlined in Vision 2030 before it markets them to the private sector under the Public Private Partnerships arrangement.

“The regime that we have presumes that the private sector will come to us (government) with project ideas but I think it should be the other way round. As the public sector, we should be spending a lot of time preparing for these projects and then aggressively market to the private sector,” he said.

The government, he said, had played its part by undertaking various measures to make such partnerships attractive, but he decried the little interest that has been shown by the business community.

“The private sector has been slow in taking up the projects and incentives provided for them. For example, if a firm lists on the stock exchange, you pay tax at the friendlier rate of 20 percent but the private sector is not stepping up,” he complained.

Opportunities across the country abound where the two parties can join hands. These include the proposed construction of the Lamu Port and the new standard gauge railway line as well as development of the ICT Park among others.

In the long term development plan that is designed to transform the country into a middle income industrialised State by 2030, the government envisages that nearly 80 percent of the projects will be financed through Public-Private Sector Initiatives.

This followed the acknowledgement by government that it was facing financial constraints thus the need to involve the business community to mobilise funding and implement these programs.

The country has PPP guidelines which upon full operationalisation provide mechanisms such as Build Operate and Transfer, Build Own and Operate through which the private sector will participation in the public projects.

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“The government is keen to attract local, regional and foreign investors thus the reason why every two months we have the Prime Minister’s Round Table, my ministry sits on sector committees with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and many others. We believe that the private sector is the key mover of development so yes we are very interested,” the assistant minister added.

Mr Muriithi spoke during the opening of a one week leadership programme where public officers from commonwealth countries will be trained on the need to create efficient and effective institutional and governance structures that will ensure the successful implementation of the PPP projects.

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