NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – The National Assembly on Wednesday began debate on a Bill which if enacted into law, will compel all public entities including the county governments to allocate 30 percent of their annual procurement and contracts to the youth.
The Public Procurement and Disposal (Amendment) Bill, 2013 sponsored by nominated MP Johnson Sakaja aims to remove impediments that would prevent enterprises run by the youth from securing public contracts.
“Every part of this country has a jobless corner, and we have seen it. The biggest threat to this country is actually unemployment. That is the reason why some of our youths have decided to take up arms; that is why some of our youths are being radicalised to participate in the Al-Shabaab because they really don’t have opportunities. That is why this Bill is a priority,” Sakaja told the House while introducing the debate.
He said the amendment would mainstream participation of youth-run enterprises into economic development.
“The Bill advances the youth participation in the procurement process in accordance with Article 227 of the Constitution. The Article requires State organs and public entities to procure contracts for goods or services under a system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective,” said Sakaja.
In the last budget, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich increased the value of government contracts reserved for local firms to a maximum of Sh1 billion from Sh500 million, giving them a bigger slice of the procurement cake.
This means that the youth who account for close to 70 percent of Kenya’s population will have access to roughly about Sh300 million in government contracts.
Ugenya MP Dave Ochieng urged MPs to be vigilant to ensure the regulations set out by the Treasury Cabinet Secretary would benefit the youth within 90 days of the enactment of the law.
“Mr Speaker, we don’t want hustlers with jets to take these opportunities; we want the real hustlers, the real youths to access these opportunities, but they will not do so if we are not hawk-eyed as Parliament,” said the Vice-Chairman of the Kenya Youth Parliamentarians Association.
The Bill proposes that the Secretary prescribes how the contracts would be assigned to the youth to safeguard against abuse.
“The Cabinet Secretary shall prescribe the preferences that shall facilitate the attainment of the quota specified in the Act in order for State to achieve the objectives of Articles 55 and 227(2) of the Constitution,” Sakaja said.
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa urged the youth to embrace an entrepreneurship mentality which has seen several success stories.
“There are success stories, Mr Speaker, in this country of some people who have never been employed but they have had business. For example the Deputy President William Ruto he has never been employed anywhere but he has gone through this business enterprise aspect and he has employed many of this country’s youths!”
President Uhuru Kenyatta has already given a directive that public entities set aside 30 percent of all procurement tenders for youth and women.
Sakaja and Wamalwa added that Parliament will consider further amendments to the procurement law and the Public Finance Management Act to remove discouraging conditionalities that have over the years been used to deny the youth a competitive chance to participate in bidding for government tendering processes.
Parliament is also required to enact a law on policies for procurement and asset disposal, including affirmative action.
The Treasury will within 90 days after the commencement of the Act, prescribe the preferences needed to facilitate the 30 percent procurement allocation to those aged between 18 and 35 years.
The Bill, which was introduced formally in Parliament on Tuesday, will have to be referred to the Senate for input once the National Assembly approves it since it concerns counties.