Moses Kuria: My plan for the Trade Ministry

Trade CS nominee Moses Kuria during the vetting. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Trade, Investment and Industry CS nominee Moses Kuria has said that he will work with Kenya Revenue Authority to develop a system where Kenyans and businesses pay tax voluntarily.

"We will work with KRA to increase tax revenue but we will not weaponise it, we will create an environment that makes it easy for business people to pay taxes through an efficient tax system," he said.

Kuria was responding to questions from MP during the ongoing vetting exercise in Parliament where he also promised to work closely with the taxman as well as the Energy and Petroleum CS and Parliament to see how they can review taxes levied on oil.

"We will work with Parliament and engage with other players on how to deal with taxes levied on oil so that we do not overburden some areas with tax," he said.

The former Gatundu South legislator was at pains to explain to the MPs how he passes the test of chapter six on the constitution. "I pass that matter of chapter six," he said.

In his defence, Kuria said that his words have been taken out of context by the media, social media and a section of the elite adding that he is a peace-loving Kenyan.

"We have come from a very divisive phase in the politics of our country, most of us were players in that context," he said. "Kenyans can look forward to me working to bring people together," he added.

He said that due to the nature of politics in the county there was a need to have a moment of repentance against each other.

"Any perceived extremism or divisiveness on my side has been shaped by the kind of political culture we have had I am going to play my role in having a culture where politics is just competition."

Kuria left the MP's in stitches when he was responding to a question by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi joking that he was the second most famous person in Kondele after ODM's Raila Odinga.

The 51-year-old would go on to reveal that his net worth was Sh750 million, which he says comes from real estate, shares in different companies, manufacturing, fintech and the energy sector.

Kuria also said that his recent trip to Ethiopia where he accompanied President William Ruto during the launch of Safaricom Ethiopia had seen him kick off talks to have a common currency between Kenya and Ethiopia.

When asked by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed what he will do to deal with counterfeit goods, Kuria said that the focus has been on fighting counterfeit goods which he says are not local instead of the government focusing on creating an environment for local manufacturing.

He said that he will ensure that people are free to do business adding that he will protect local manufacturers. "We will use all efforts possible to deal with substandard goods," he said.

According to Kuria if he makes it to Cabinet he will open a window where inspection of goods is done before they are shipped or at the Mombasa port if traders chose to, he said will fight counterfeit goods.

When asked about the utterances that he made about receiving a bribe from Amos Kimunya, Kuria denied ever taking a bribe from the former.

"I did not receive a bribe...It was taken out of context and the speaker ruled on that matter," he said.

According to Kuria, he was only pointing out that there was an effort to bribe MPs saying that the money that he waved at the time was his own and not the bribe that he was talking about.

He said that he will engage other trade ministers from Africa to have the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) extended by the USA. "We will push for a common position in Africa to have AGOA extended."

When asked about what his ministry will do about the Export Processing Zones (EPZ) by Kilifi North MP Owen Baya he said that EPZ's do not lack land. "We are going to develop every available space."

Kuria said in his plan for the ministry that there are aggregation centres to be set up in every county to help locals to aggregate their exports saying that it will promote value addition and export.

Kuria also said that his ministry will go after manufacturers that have left Kenya and give them a plan for how to support their ventures.

On the issue of exporting Kenyan goods abroad, he said that his ministry will increase trade attaches. "We will increase trade attaches all over the world they will be more than the ambassadors," he said.

He at the same time said that his ministry will work to set up warehouses in key markets that will uniquely sell Kenyan products, adding that one will be in DRC.

While addressing the issue of financing he said that the government will work to avail cheap loans for startups. "We are going to avail business capital and credit for anyone who wants to do manufacturing," he said.

Kuria also said that he will work closely with both levels of government to ease doing business.

"We are going to have a trade industry conference soon for counties for us to establish a framework of how we are going to work together with the county governments," he said.

He said that one of the main focuses of the conference was on how to address the issue of trade licences and taxes. "I would want to see a single business license for the national and county government," he said while adding that he will champion having intercountry trading licenses.

Kuria also promised to set up a leather zone in Athi River and Northern Kenya. "I will ensure that there is good money for hides and skin," he said.

On the issue of the rising prices of edible oils, he said that his ministry will open up the market to allow smaller companies and individuals to be in a position to manufacture and import the oil which he said will allow competition which will in turn lower the prices.

"We will open the Moyale border post," he said adding that the government will work to have zero posts along border points with other nations.

The committee's chairperson Moses Wetangula advised him to work closely with other ministers to actualize his plan for the trade docket which he said was largely dependent on their success as well.

He also asked him to work with local banks to help finance local startups and for him to try and do what he had told the committee.

In his closing statement, Kuria said that he will work to grow the manufacturing industry which he says has great potential in the country.

"I would want to see a situation whereby I match two for one, for every shilling that you spend through the exchequer I generate two shilling from non-balance sheet efforts like investments and public-private partnerships and generally enabling jobs to be created," he said.