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Unclaimed Assets Authority seeks amendments to expedite payout process

The Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) is seeking to amend the Unclaimed Financial Assets Act number 40 of 2011 in order to reduce the time taken by Kenyans to access their claims from the authority.

Under the current framework, it takes 90 days from the time a person files a claim on an asset to the time the authority finally delivers its decision regarding the asset.

Additionally, all claims, including small-value claims, are subjected to the same lengthy process, which often discourages individuals with small claims from pursuing their assets.

According to UFAA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), John Mwangi, the proposed amendments will also seek to integrate technology, which will in turn improve the claim settlement process.

Additionally, Mwangi says that the authority is also pushing for the harmonisation of all other existing laws on unclaimed assets to eliminate any hindrance that could bar UFAA from accessing the unclaimed assets from the holders.

“There are amendments which are supposed to be made to the UFAA Act 40 of 2011. The current legal framework doesn’t differentiate whether one is claiming Sh 1 million or Sh 10 because the process is the same. So we are working with the legislators to change our legal framework to make it easy for the claimant so that once we establish who you are, then we are able to pay you your money without the lengthy process,” said Mwangi.

The CEO was speaking in Nyeri during the launch of a three-day public sensitisation drive where members of the public were encouraged to check their status on any unclaimed assets.

The drive, which will be jointly undertaken by Huduma Kenya, was also aimed at encouraging holding institutions such as banks and Saccos to surrender unclaimed financial assets in their possession.

Currently, the authority holds Sh 27.28 billion in cash in the form of unclaimed bank deposits, savings deposits, dividends declared by various companies, money from telecoms, unclaimed pensions, and Sacco deposits. UFAA is also in possession of 1.2 billion units of unclaimed shares.

Similarly, the authority has paid out Sh 2 billion in cash and another 39.7 million units of shares, with Mwangi blaming the low reunification rates on a lack of awareness among the general public about UFAA.

“The main challenge is that a lot of people do not know about UFAA, and that is why we have started the nationwide initiative to sensitise people to check or collect their unclaimed assets. It is imperative that these monies be reunited with their rightful owners and ploughed back into the economy,” said Mwangi.

From Nyeri, the campaign will be rolled out in Kiambu and Thika. Ben Kai, the Huduma Kenya CEO, said that they would be partnering with UFAA to ensure that they bring the public closer to their assets. He noted that five out of the 52 Huduma centres in the country had already set up an UFAA desk, and plans were underway to popularize the service in the remaining 47 centres under the Huduma Mashinani outreach programme.

“We have Huduma centres in all 47 counties, and our work is to bring all government services closer to Kenyans. This is a platform that UFAA can leverage on to reach as many Kenyans as possible. As Huduma, we have also come up with another channel, Huduma Mashinani, where we will be taking the services right to the doorstep of Kenyans and bringing them closer to their assets that would have been lost,” said Kai.

By Wangari Mwangi and Samuel Maina

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