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KAM urges Judiciary to wage war on illicit goods

By | November 9th 2009

By Standard Reporter

Members of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) have asked the Judiciary to wage war on the sale of illicit goods to boost the economy.

The firms, involved in the manufacture and distribution of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) said the Judiciary and Government’s prosecution department hold the key to reduction in the number of illicit products in the local market.

Addressing a meeting in Kisumu, Julie Adell-Owino, BAT Kenya Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs said proliferation of counterfeits was major source of concern.

"We urge the Judiciary to hand out sentences that will discourage manufacturers of illicit products from engaging in the business," she said.

Adell-Owino, whose company has been a major victim of the vice, urged law enforcement agencies to appreciate the full cost of illicit products and negative impact on the economy.

The meeting, organised by FMCG manufacturing companies and the Judiciary, sought to increase awareness on the effect of illicit trade to the economy.

The Judiciary, Administration and Regular Police, representatives from the deputy public prosecutor’s office and members of KAM attended the meeting.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) — the Government’s tax collection agency was also represented at the workshop, a third in a series organised by industry.

Companies represented at the meeting included BAT, Sara Lee and GlaxoSmithKline.

The workshop targeted law enforcement agencies in the western frontier where illicit trade activities are rampant due to weak border controls.

Massive consequences

Mr Andrew Musangi, an advocate said, "most illicit trade cases before our courts are not well prosecuted and evidence gathering is still wanting. Suspects are, therefore, let loose with minor fines or sentences, which does not serve as a deterrent bearing in mind the massive consequences to the economy".

The meeting comes in the wake of growing concerns that the sale of illicit products is on the rise, despite the implementation of the anti-illicit laws.

KAM estimates that manufacturers incur an annual net loss of Sh30 billion, while the Government loses Sh6 billion in potential profits and tax revenues due to counterfeit trade.

This figure is, however, higher once the sale of contraband products is taken into consideration.

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