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Cofek protests against rule that increases inspection of imports

By Graham Kajilwa | August 2nd 2016

A consumers’ lobby has protested against new regulations requiring all imports to get compliance certificates.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has dismissed the regulations published by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) last month as ineffective.

Kebs wants all goods destined for the local market to be inspected in their countries of origin and issued with certificates of conformity to be allowed into Kenya.

The agency said these inspections would support efforts to keep sub-standard goods out of the local market.

“What is the point of wasting taxpayers’ money on such an initiative? Every country has its own standards. Besides, we have the international standards that Kebs ascribes to,” Cofek boss Stephen Mutoro said.

“This will be just another money-minting exercise. There are better ways of handling counterfeit goods. Besides, how will Kebs know the certificates being issued are not forged?”

The standards body’s directive will affect food products like sugar, cereals (maize, wheat, rice and beans), the now-controversial fish imports and dairy products, as well as used clothes and fertilisers.

Products headed for the local market are to be tested and physically inspected to ensure conformity to relevant standards.

The bureau also wants used vehicles and spare parts inspected by appointed Kebs partners before being shipped in.

If the used vehicles and spares are not from the United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates and South Africa where Kebs has appointed inspection partners, then they will be subjected to inspection on arrival.

Exempted products

New vehicles and other road machinery (such as tractors and bulldozers) imported directly from manufacturers are, however, exempted from these regulations.

Mr Mutoro said the new regulations would increase the costs of living by making products more expensive when traders pass on inspection costs to consumers, and deal a blow to the country’s efforts to open up its borders to more trade partners.

“Generally, imported goods are much cheaper than those locally manufactured. It is time the Government re-looks at this directive as it will destroy some bilateral agreements,” he said.

However, Kebs has insisted that the inspections will help increase scrutiny on what gets into Kenya.

“In an effort to curb the importation of sub-standard goods and illicit goods, all imported goods into Kenya must be inspected in the country of supply and a Certification of Compliance issued,” the bureau said when releasing the regulations.

“These inspections are undertaken by Kebs-appointed inspection companies as provided for under the Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVOC) of Imports order.”

Consequently, only goods that arrive at the Port of Mombasa with compliance certificates will be given expedited clearance. The inspection of goods is to be done by four Kebs-appointed companies that will inspect products in 19 regions that comprise 59 countries.

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