, NYERI, Kenya, Jan 24 – The public hearings on the Public Benefits Organisations Act, 2013 (PBO) has kicked off with public participation proceedings in Nyeri and Meru Counties successively.
The public participation forums are being conducted by the PBO Task Force that was formed by the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning, Anne Waiguru in December, 2014 being chaired by Sophia Abdi. The Task Force has a team drawn from various stakeholders including government officials.
Speaking in Meru while opening the second hearing forum, the Chairperson of the Task Force Abdi said that they have a long schedule of activities which will come to a close on March 5 covering Mombasa, Garissa, Kitui ,Nakuru, Kisumu, Kakamega, Eldoret and Nairobi.
The PBO Task Force has stipulated working Terms of Reference which includes, the duty to receive views from the stakeholders on the proposed amendments to the Act, advise the Cabinet Secretary on the implementation of the Act, and monitor the legislative process of amending the Act.
The Public Benefits Organisations Act, which is meant to replace the Non – Governmental Organisations Coordination Act of 1990, was assented into law on January 14, 2013.
The ACT is intended to establish a regulatory framework and operationalisation of Public Benefits Organisations. It elicited a lot of controversial views and intense public debate which attracted the government attention.
The Civil Society that triggered and generated a lot of debate on the PBO Act demanded for immediate amendments with the view that most Non – Governmental Organisations are non-profit making entities.
The Civil Society organizations being the main stakeholder in the sector also urged the Government not to subject the NGOs to any financial prohibitions since they serve communities at the grassroots.
The other areas of contention in the PBO ACT- 2013 that some stakeholders felt uncomfortable with was the Second Registration and the unclear and cumbersome procedures of registration they were to be subjected to. They demanded clear procedures and guidelines to be put in place and to be all inclusive.
The working Task Force has a lot of balancing to do to critically deal with the emerging views in the public debate forums where some stakeholders feel the Act should be implemented as it is currently and those who are for the amendments.