The business community in Thika has accused the national government of exposing its members to unfair competition through skewed policies.
The traders, who spoke when they met ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi in Thika town on Friday, complained of over-taxation and poor business environment.
Thika District Business Association chairman Alfred Wanyoike said many traders had been forced to close shop due to unfriendly policies.
"We are also facing a hard time in the hands of security officers, who are capitalising on the war against counterfeits to extort businessmen, and in the process crippling businesses," said Wanyoike.
He added: "The Government has put so many hurdles in the way of local entrepreneurs. It is sad that foreign companies seeking to set base here are offered favourable terms as we struggle."
Traders at the meeting included exporters, transporters, retailers, manufacturers, micro-finance operators, leaders of cooperative savings societies and property owners.
They wondered how the Government hoped to grow the economy and create employment for the millions of jobless youth if local entrepreneurs were pushed out of business.
Mr Mudavadi challenged the Government to address concerns by the traders.
“The economy should be driven by minimal taxation, good leadership and transparency. We can’t have a government heavily relying on taxes to run its activities at the time corruption is rampant. The heavy taxes the government is collecting from Kenyans amounts to extortion," said Mudavadi.
He wondered why the Government would wait for traders to import goods, pay taxes and ferry them to their premises then brand the counterfeits.
Nairobi Importers and Traders Association chairman Ben Mutahi said they supported the fight against counterfeits, but said it should not be used to sink local businesses.
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