MPs seek freeze on projects to strengthen trade industry

Parliamentary committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives led by chairman Kanini Kega while on a tour at Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute facility in Kisumu on March 15th 2019. (Colins Oduor, Standard)
The Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperative Development want a freeze on new projects in the sector to allow for the completion of those under implementation.

Freeze on fresh development, the committee believes, will release funds to finance the completion of several stalled projects, many of which are over 70 per cent done.

Speaking when six members of the committee visited the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) western Kenya headquarter in Kisumu, the Chairman Kanini Kega (MP Kieni) said this was one of the surest ways of making the sector productive.

“It makes very little sense to initiate new projects when those that have sunk billions of taxpayers’ money are rotting away, unable to live up to their potential to drive up industrialisation,” he said.

New projects, he warned, were bound to face the same plight.

The committee, which on Thursday visited KIRDI headquarter and innovation centre both in Nairobi, has pledged to push for the release of a total of Sh3.2 billion needed by the research and business incubation institute to be fully functional.

Facilities such as KIRDI, Kega said, were key launch pads for small enterprises, which in turn create jobs while helping the Government realise industrialisation dreams.

KIRDI is constructing an excellence centre in South B. The facility which will house the Trade ministry stalled in 2013 after sinking over Sh2 billion to reach 65 per cent completion of the physical building.

The Kisumu facility is equally incomplete and needs Sh800 million for full equipment.

“We are going to push for the funding of these projects either in the supplementary budget or in the 2019/2020 budget,” he said.

Kega added that parliament would also root for increased allocation to the ministry “because this is a very important pillar of the economy and one of the Big 4 the country is banking on for growth targets.”

The sector only gets 1 per cent of the annual budget.

KIRDI Chief Executive Officer Prof David Tuigong said underfunding was to blame for low key impact the institute and the sector generally was having on the economy.

The Institute, for example, he said, gets Sh1 billion from the Exchequer, half of which goes to recurrent expenditure.

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