HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PANDEMIC RESPONSE AND MANAGEMENT BILL, 2020


Introduction:

 A pandemic is an infectious disease occurring across international borders.

The Bill, once it becomes law, shall provide a legal framework for coordinated response and management of activities during a pandemic; temporary measures and relief during pandemic; and connected purpose.

What are some of the proposals on the establishment of the pandemic response fund?

Section 20- Objects of the fund

That a pandemic response fund shall be established upon a declaration of the pandemic and which funds shall be to mobilize resources to go towards containing the spread and impact of the pandemic.

Section 24 - Winding up of the Fund

The Cabinet Minister of health shall wind up the fund within one month of the publication of a notice in the Gazette declaring the end of the pandemic by the President.

What are the proposed socio-economic protective measures?

Provisions

Summary of the provisions

Section 25 –

Tax incentives

 

The Cabinet Secretary (Finance), may with approval of parliament, introduce measures to cushion affected persons for the duration of the pandemic.

 

Section 26 –

Loans and mortgages

 

The Bill proposes the following measures in the event the pandemic affects the capacity of the public to meet its contractual obligations entered into prior to the pandemic. The following measures shall apply up to three months after the pandemic:

  1. A borrower and the respective lending institutions shall enter into an arrangement to review repayment modalities;
  2. Penalties shall not be imposed on defaulter; and
  3. A defaulter shall not be listed by a credit reference bureau.

 

Section 27 - Moratorium on penalties

Lending financial institution shall be precluded from charging fees, interest and any other penalty for non-payment or late payment of obligations during the pandemic period.

 

Section 28 -Contractual obligations

 

Where a contract is entered into before the declaration of the pandemic and pandemic affects performance of the contractual obligations, the following shall be precluded:

  1. Commencement of levying of execution;
  2. Enforcement of security over movable and immovable property used for the purpose of trade, business or profession;
  3. Repossession of any goods used for the purpose of a trade, business or profession;
  4. Termination of lease or licence of immovable property in connection with non-payment or rent or other monies.

Section 29 –

Tenancy Agreement

The bill further proposes the following in respect to a tenant whose financial capacity is affected by the pandemic:

  1. the tenant shall give a notice in writing to the landlord or contracting party that they are unable  to meet their obligations because of the pandemic;
  2. upon receipt of the notice the contracting party shall enter into agreement on how the tenant shall meet their obligation at the end of the pandemic.

 

Section 30 –

Labour relations

 

Where a pandemic  adversely affects the ability of an employer to pay salaries or wages:-

  1. An employer shall not terminate a contract of service or dismiss an employee; and
  2. An employer shall not coerce an employee to take salary cut.

An employer who is unable to pay salaries or wages shall permit an employee to take a leave of absence without pay for the duration of the pandemic.

 

Section 32 –

Utilities

 

The bill proposes:

  1. Waiver of water and electricity charges for identified  vulnerable personal and households;
  2. Water and electricity service providers may:
  1. adjust tariff rates in order to reduce utility charges to individuals and businesses; and
  2. withhold disconnections for no-payment of utility bills

Section 33 -Information technology

 

In instances where the government issues directives that may adversely affect the conduct of on-site meeting or businesses, the Bill inter alia proposes-

  1. Meetings may be held remotely  via appropriate electronic means and the resolutions made during such meetings shall be valid;
  2. Court proceedings may be held remotely and the Chief Justice may make Rules for conduct  of such proceedings; and
  3. Respective heads of institutions may make guidelines on how business shall be transacted remotely.

Section 34 –

Rates and Licences

County governments may suspend fees payable on renewal of trade licenses and payment of property rates during the pandemic.

 

What are the proposed penalties under the Bill?

Provision

Offence

Penalty

Section 35- Obstruction

Obstruction of a public officer in the discharge of their function under the Act or if a person fails to comply with a direction given by competent authority in the furtherance of the provisions of the Act

Fine not exceeding one million shillings;

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year; or both.

Section 36- False Claim

Making false claim for purposes of obtaining any relief, assistance, repair, reconstruction of other benefits from a public office; or makes/circulates a false alarm knowingly or warning as to pandemic/ its severity/magnitude leading to panic

Fine not exceeding one million shillings;

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year; or both.

Section 37- Misappropriation of relief money or materials

A person who is entrusted or is in custody of the money and goods meant for providing relief  during a pandemic- misappropriates the money or goods; or misappropriates the money and goods for the person’s own use; and compels another person to misappropriate  the money or goods

Fine not exceeding ten million shillings;

Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years; or both.

Section 38- General Penalty

Any other offence under the Act where a penalty is not provided.

A fine not less than one hundred thousand  shillings or fine not exceeding twice the value of goods or products or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.

Article prepared by Angela Cherono,

Principal Associate in the Litigation Practice Group.





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