HomeTourism / Culture'We are not privatising National Parks' Balala clarifies controversial remarks

    ‘We are not privatising National Parks’ Balala clarifies controversial remarks

    Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala, has clarified that the Ministry has no intention to privatize national parks but rather their management.

    A few days ago, news circulated that the Tourism Ministry sought a new model that would see national parks and game reserves managed by private agencies.

    Altered business models

    Balala, while addressing a European Union Green Diplomacy Webinar, said that the pandemic had altered how they wanted to run the business. Among the new ways he sought to manage game reserves and parks was through a public-private partnership.

    “Why does the government run a convention facility or bureau? Why don’t we outsource this and make it more efficient,” Balala had said during the webinar.

    The news caused an uproar among Kenyans, but the Cabinet secretary, speaking to Citizen TV, said they were not selling Kenya’s national parks. Instead, they were looking for a partner to help them generate revenue.

    Partner to generate revenue

    “We cannot sell Parks; these are National Heritage,” Balala said, “Our budget is Ksh. 7 billion, but it’s not enough; our salaries are Ksh. 5.3 billion. We generate 4.2 billion, now with no tourism, we cannot generate half a billion, which is why we are seeking to partner.

    “We don’t have plans to privatize the parts. Of our 58 National reserves and parks, only 6-7 generate money. We are not privatizing the National Heritage assets but the core management of those assets,” Balala went on.

    Ways to pay bills

    Strategy Director at KWS, Edwin Wanyonyi, also backed Balala. Wanyonyi said that they were seeking to also partner with communities, research institutions, and universities.

    “As we continue with our conservancy, we must think of how we will pay our bills,” Wanyonyi said.

    Balala also revealed that the Ministry had an outstanding bill of human-wildlife compensation of Ksh 14 billion, with only over Ksh 2 billion paid out. Previous efforts had been on poaching. However, they were now looking to go into management, conservation, and local communities to manage the conflict better.

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