In November 2014 the NGO Council and the Ministry of Devolution issued a memorandum proposing changes to the PBO Act (2013). Of the 54 amendments, 16 of them explicitly targeted local Trusts and Foundations and would gravely affect the growth of philanthropy in Kenya. They include;
- Making compulsory the re-registration, regulation and control of all agencies doing public benefits work. Many of these will include Trusts and Foundations; the implication of this is that all Foundations and Trust will have to register under the PBO Act as opposed to seeking PBO status and retaining their original registration as is currently the case in the PBO Act.
- Reversing a decade of policy dialogue around how to encourage domestic philanthropy for development through progressive tax breaks and other incentives for development. The proposal in the memorandum is to have this provision in the Second Schedule deleted. See specifically point 54 changes to the Second Schedule;
- Removes the obligation of the State to provide “an enabling environment for PBOs”, “consult PBOs on public policy”, “a collaborative framework between government and PBOs” and “PBO participation except through their representatives”;
- Similar to Ethiopian NGO Law, legally block access to foreign funding to 15% of PBOs budgets. Agencies, include Kenyan PBOs who seek more than 15% in foreign funding will have to now register as Foreign Public Benefits Organisations;
- Requiring any organization registered under the PBO Act to compulsorily (as opposed to voluntarily), join and maintain membership in a self-regulation forum.
- Raises the number of Kenyans required on the boards of all PBOs from 1/3 to 2/3 regardless of whether they are local or international organizations.
- Removes public, judicial and parliamentary oversight in the appointment and management of the officials of the PBO Authority. This would then leave this all powerful body under the control of the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution
In response, EAAG and KCDF convened over 30 foundations and trusts to discuss the effects of the proposed amendments and draw up a collective way forward. The objective was to design a structured and organized manner to share update on the development, develop and present collective memorandum to the Task Force on PBO Act amendments. The group set up a Foundations and Trusts steering group to provide information and take leaders in achieving this goal.
The group has since participated in various forums and on the 5th of March the group presented a finalized memorandum to the taskforce. See final memorandum here. The Task force completed in 30th March 2015 and the participants eagerly await the findings and recommendations.
For updates on the progress please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.