27 July 2012

Kenya: Traders Want Anti-Terror Law Fast-Tracked

Nairobi — The business community is pushing for the fast-tracking of the Anti-Terrorism Bill to secure their long-term interests in the country as the general elections approach.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers Chairman Polycarp Igathe says the move by Parliament to pass the legislation is necessary, especially with the move by the Mombasa High Court, on Wednesday, to lift a ban on the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC).

"Our concern is that this MRC should not be driving to try and create an independent country outside of Kenya because the port is very critical to business," he said.

The controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill has been criticized primarily by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims and other human rights groups that have termed it as 'discriminatory and targeted to the Muslim community.'

The bill gives police vast powers when spying on suspects, including taping telephone conversations to collect evidence against them and provides that the intercepted communication be presented to court as evidence.

Another provision of the bill is the seizure of property believed to have been used in terrorism acts by the police.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa says the Bill will be tabled once Parliament resumes next week.

"We met with NCBDA (Nairobi Central Business District Association) and top of their list was concerns about terrorism. We have put in place legislation which is coming as Parliament resumes. Sooner than later we should have a legal framework in place," he said.

Igathe also raised concern over the country's money transfer system, which he says does not meet international standards, and could see some local businesses black-listed and unable to transact.

"Because we do not have an effective money laundering law, our money transfer system may be affected. There is a certain requirement around international law for you to regulate money transferred to avoid laundering and Kenya is being asked to enact that. Kenya Bankers Association have been lobbying government to do so," he said.

He further urged Parliament to bring the necessary legislations to a close before the next general elections.

The anti-money laundering advisory board approved the immediate operationalization of the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) in April, whose mandate is identifying funds and assets associated with crime and money laundering.

Under the Crime and Anti-money Laundering Act 2009, persons transacting, ferrying goods and services valued at Sh8.3 million in or out of the country will be expected to declare their transaction.

Wamalwa and Igathe spoke during the launch of the Ernst and Young Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services, a new division that is expected to assist the audit firm's clients in detecting and curbing corruption within companies.

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