Government denies targeting small scale traders in ongoing crackdown on fakes

Anti Counterfeit Agency Executive Director Elema Halake with Mombasa County commissioner Evans Achoki during the official opening of the anti illicit agency in Mombasa and Kwale in Mombasa. [File, Standard]

The Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) has denied the Government is out to frustrate small scale traders in the fight against counterfeits.

The authority’s chairperson, Flora Mutahi, said the anti-counterfeit war is meant to protect genuine traders and local manufacturers.

“We want to assure the genuine traders and public that the Government is out to facilitate and not frustrate traders. We are strongly combating all forms of illicit trade in the interest of promoting a fair-trade environment and protect the rights of genuine traders, promote our local manufacturing industry, safeguard jobs and improve the ease of doing business,” said Ms Mutahi.

Similar sentiments were echoed by ACA Executive Director, Elema Halake who said unscrupulous traders were increasingly changing tack and penetrating more points in the supply chain, from manufacturing, importation and distribution to wholesale and retail.

SEE ALSO :Anti-Counterfeit Authority destroys counterfeit goods in Mombasa

One month

 “We are strengthening our capacity to detect counterfeits at the ports of entry through use of modern technology and automation as well as multi-agency collaboration,” said Halake.

Still, the ongoing war on counterfeits has exposed how majority of Kenyan lives are put at risk by traders who are keen on quick profits.

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A look as seized fake products show that most of them are basic items used day to day in many Kenyan households.

In the last one month alone, counterfeit goods worth more than Sh100 million have been seized.

The goods seized include electrical appliances, sportswear and equipment, motor vehicle spare parts, digital TV antennas and skin toners. Most of these goods were imported from the Far East.

This month, a 40-foot container of fake circuit breakers from China worth more than Sh10 million was seized.

According to ACA, more than 70 per cent of the illicit goods enter the country through the sea ports.

 “Most of the fake goods are imports and enter the country mainly through the main Port of Mombasa, Kilindini Port, Container Freight Stations in Mombasa and the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi,” said Mutahi.

The authority said the importation and trade in fake goods was the bane of the country’s economy, posing the biggest threat to the attainment of the manufacturing and job creation pillar of the government’s Big Four Agenda.

In a meeting with EU envoys, President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated his support for the war on counterfeits which was launched last year with the formation of a multi-agency team headed by deputy head of public service, Wanyama Musiambo.

The Government has introduced tough regulations to fight entry of fakes into the country, including inspection of goods at both their point of origin and at the port of entry, and the consolidation of similar goods in one container.

The policies were informed by revelations that some unscrupulous businessmen have been taking advantage of previous rules to ship in counterfeits and undeclared goods.

Research carried out by the ACA indicates that there is a high correlation between illicit trade and slowed economic growth, development of local industry as well as unemployment rates.

Crime links

Illicit trade crimes have been linked to other crimes such as bribery, money laundering, terror funding and tax evasion.

Additionally, illicit goods cause adverse health, safety and environmental effects to consumers since they are often of inferior quality and standard.

Manufacturers blame Kenya’s high tax regime compared to her neighbours for making the trade in counterfeits attractive and lucrative.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Chairman Sachen Gudka warned that the over-taxation was encouraging trade in cheap counterfeits. [Josphat Thiong’o and Wainaina Wambu]

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Anti-Counterfeit AuthorityGovernmentFake goodsSmall scale traders