, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 – The civil society on Wednesday applauded a decision taken by the National Assembly to spurn proposed amendments to the Public Benefits Organizations (PBO) Act.
Co-chair of the Civil Society Organisations Reference Group Ezra Mbogori explained that the proposed amendments were not designed to fine tune errors, but instead change the spirit of the original Act.
“The amendments relating to the PBO act were not designed to correct the typographical errors or plain inconsistencies.”
“They were instead designed to make substantive amendments that change the letter and spirit of the original Act.”
“Amendments were brought to the National Assembly without any prior consultation with the leadership of the PBO sector,” explained Mbogori.
He added that most of the amendments would have affected the liberties of Kenyans, constitutionally enshrined rights to association.
Speaking at a press conference, Mbogori revealed that they will in the next 60 days engage in dialogue with the government to accelerate the implementation of the Act.
“The proposals would have endangered national policies and commitments to development and democratic governance.”
Lauryn Ochieng an official from Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) observed that though they celebrated the decision taken by the National Assembly, the work has just begun.
Ochieng said that they now have to work with the government to ensure that the Bill is effectively implemented.
“Over the next 60 days we will reach out to the government and in particular the Ministry of Devolution and Planning to look for ways of accelerating the implementation of the Act.”
“Of critical importance is effecting the rules and regulations for the sector and the establishment of a credible Regulatory Authority.”
“We extend our arms to the government to assist in the formulation of these,” she explained.
She reaffirmed the societies support on the Bill that got Presidential Assent in January saying that the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2013 undermines the previous legislation that is yet to be implemented.
After a four-year consultative process between Non- Governmental Organisations (NGO) and the government, the PBO Act 2013 received Presidential Assent on January 13.
On October 30 the government drafted an omnibus Statute Law – Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2013 – and Civil Organisations say that the amendments undermine the PBO Act.
The new amendments include, awarding the discretionary powers to the regulator to impose terms and conditions for the grant of certificates and prohibitions on NGOs from receiving more than 15 percent of its funding from external donors.
Further, the Bill seeks to alter the composition of the Regulatory Authority’s governance body in favour of the executive.
Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale on Wednesday afternoon rejected the proposed amendments during the Bills second reading in Parliament.