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Plans to give unclaimed assets to rightful owners

The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) is working towards increasing the amount of unclaimed assets being reunified with their owners in efforts to inject liquidity into the economy and drive economic growth.

UFAA chairman Kigo Njenga said that their major goal is to increase reunification of people and their lost and found assets. Currently, the authority holds a total portfolio of Sh. 57 billion, with Sh. 27 billion in cash and around Sh. 30 billion in shares and other assets.

“What we are currently holding is Sh. 27 billion in cash and cash equivalents, and this has grown from Sh. 500 million within the last five years. The dream that we have is to grow this to the baseline survey of Sh. 241 billion, which we will endeavor to reunite with the rightful owners,” said Njenga.

Speaking on Wednesday during the National Holder’s Conference, Njenga said that the Kenya Kwanza government has the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), which requires financing, and the easiest way to finance it is to hasten the reunification of people and their lost or abandoned assets.

“To do so, we are appealing to the National Assembly and the government to hasten the process of amending the laws and regulations to give claimants an easier way to get their assets, and this will increase the amount of money released to the mainstream economy for development,” said Njenga.

He explained that if they get a law which allows them to pay e-claims that are verified, people who are owed small amounts of money, who are the majority, will get paid, and this will inject cash flow into the economy.

“We have started a national-wide sensitization campaign, and we are working with the media, religious organizations, and other social amenities to tell Kenyans that we are holding their money and encouraging them to come for it,” said Njenga.

Njenga said that to date they have reunified assets worth Sh. 2 billion with their rightful owners, and they intend to increase it tenfold.

“Because it is not easy even globally to reunify people with their lost and found assets, we are going to continually invest these assets in efforts to safeguard them, with some of the investments being in government bonds and Treasury bills,” Njenga explained.

He added that they are also looking at investing the funds into social bonds that will hasten the Kenya Kwanza BETA programmes like housing, where they have studied developed economies like the USA and discovered that they use unclaimed assets to enhance education and the transformation of societies.

Njenga called on the organizations holding unclaimed assets, including abandoned wages, abandoned court fines, and other securities like title deeds, abandoned tuition money, and caution money, to hand them over to the organization as stipulated by law.

UFAA CEO John Mwangi called on the holders of unclaimed assets to identify the assets, reunify them with their owners, and where reunification is not possible, remit them to the authority with the required information to help them trace the owners.

Mwangi said that in the past one year they have received a total of Sh.4 billion from various institutions, which is the highest receipt they have had since they began operations, and this was necessitated by an amnesty giving holders an exemption from penalties if they comply.

He highlighted that the least amount they have paid is Sh. 17, and the highest amount paid is Sh. 85 million.

“We are encouraging members of the public to visit our searchable database through the USSD code *361# or visit our website at www.ufaa.go.ke to find out if any unclaimed assets have been remitted under their name or someone they know,” explained Mwangi.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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