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Engineers push on with price fixing despite CAK warning

NEWS
By Patrick Alushula | October 25th 2021

The public will have two weeks to send their views. EBK Chief Executive Margaret Ogai (C). [David Gichuru, Standard]

The Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) is still pushing to set minimum prices for engineering services despite the competition watchdog warning it of fines and prosecution.

The move looks set to put engineers at loggerheads with the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK), which recently said fixing prices amounts to killing competition and making services expensive.

EBK is however pushing on with the move by issuing a gazette notice inviting the public to give comments on the proposed Engineers (Scale of Fees for Professional Engineering Services) Rules, 2021.

“This is to request all persons likely to be affected by the proposed rules to submit written comments and views...to be considered and incorporated in the said Rules,” said EBK Chief Executive Margaret Ogai.

The public will have two weeks to send their views on the proposed changes which EBK says will help to prevent price undercutting among professional engineers.

The engineer’s body argued that setting price floors will ensure quality engineering services, safety and welfare of the public.

“(The rules will) address the challenge of collapsing of buildings and other infrastructure as the public will be aware of the professional engineering services and the importance of engaging professional engineers at every stage of the project,” said Ms Ogai.

But CAK has argued that such a move, also being pursued by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAK) infringes on the Competition Act, 2012 and could attract a penalty of up to 10 per cent of an entity’s preceding year’s gross annual turnover, a fine of Sh10 million and up to five years in jail.

Section 21 of the CAK Act prohibits entities from setting up agreements that could prevent, distort or lessen competition unless they obtain an exemption from CAK.

ICPAK and other professional bodies including the Association of Kenya Reinsurers, Association of Kenya Insurers will be closely watching EBK’s move. Previous attempts to determine minimum fees saw the re-insurers’ body pay a Sh721,000 fine.

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