Kenya: MP Pushes for Laws to Protect Kenyan Manufacturers

Local manufacturers stand to enjoy easier access to markets if the National Assembly endorses amendments to the Procurement Act.

Busia Women Representative Florence Mutua has sponsored the amendment bill christened 'Buy Kenya, Build Kenya' due for debate in Parliament next week.

The amendments seek to compel traders contracted by the government to purchase and supply at least 40 per cent of local produce and then import the remainder.

LOOPHOLES

Ms Mutua says loopholes in regulations that protect local producers and manufacturers have opened doors for the influx of cheap products from China.

At Amukura in Teso South on Friday, she urged parliamentarians to support the bill to ensure Kenyan producers are protected and that they enjoy access to local markets.

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"Most of the products Kenya imports, food stuff especially, are locally available," she said during a funds drive to support women's groups.

"There is no regulation protecting farmers and producers in the country. Importers have taken advantage of the loophole to sneak in cheap and sub-standard products from China," she said.

The MP further said local factories are not thriving due lack of regulations that govern importation.

"This amendment is important for the country ... I urge my colleagues to support it without prejudice. We want our people to be economically empowered and to ensure the government's development plan under the Big Four agenda is realised," she said.

UHURU'S PLEA

Early in April, President Kenyatta asked parliament to expedite enactment of five bills he said were crucial to the implementation of government programmes under the Big Four agenda.

In his appeal to the National Assembly and Senate, Mr Kenyatta said the mediation process on Land Value Index Laws (Amendment) Bill, Physical Planning Bill, Irrigation Bill, Warehouse Receipt System Bill and Kenya Roads Bill should be fast-tracked.

He had earlier given Parliament a rare thumbs-up, saying it had remained a strident defender of "our democracy"

President Uhuru Kenyatta has turned his focus to manufacturing, food security, affordable housing and Universal Health Coverage ahead of 2022, when his second and final five-year term will end.

INCENTIVES

However, the government will be forced to give incentives to encourage small and medium-size businesses to develop new products and patent them so they are not taken over by entrepreneurs from other countries.

A survey by TNS Research International revealed that small scale retailers record low sales despite renewed consumer confidence in the economy.

Many have complained of lack of markets for their products and difficulties in accessing credit from financial institutions.

The lawmaker also appealed to President to offset farmers' debts, citing long dry spells and unpredictable climatic conditions.

"Farmers who planted their crops early in the year are now counting losses as the rains delayed. I appeal to the government to write off the loans they took to prepare for the season," she said.

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