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Kenya: Remove Barriers to Trade and InvestmentThursday, August 02, 2018 > 11:46:45
Released on Tuesday July 31, 2018
Kenya's position as a regional trade hub is the subject of a high-level discussion this week in Nairobi.
And this is important because dynamics change fast and with far-reaching ramifications, hence the imperative for constant reviews and interrogation of the prevailing environment.
At the centre of the ongoing Kenya Trade Week and Expo is the question: Is the country competitive enough to attract new investments and create more wealth?
Available evidence demonstrates that major steps have been made in making ours a preferred destination for investment.
The latest report on the doing business index by the World Bank last year ranked Kenya 80th among the 190 countries surveyed, a major leap from the previous year when it was 92nd.
Part of the improvement has arisen from the revision of trade laws and policies, eliminating restrictions and unnecessary hurdles that blocked investment.
But, as experts and business gurus note, the path towards prosperity is still paved with thorns. Concerns are being expressed about the fact that despite changed laws, with devolution, other legal and policy bottlenecks have emerged.
That counties have enacted laws that go against national policies or add layers to restrictions already imposed by the central government.
For example, some counties have sought to introduce levies for goods passing through their jurisdiction, on top of what the national government charges, hence creating double taxation and raising the cost of doing business.
Monday, Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya made a commitment to a review and harmonisation of the laws to ease business.
The private sector and foreign investors must be encouraged to invest in our economy; it is the surest way of creating jobs and wealth.
And it is significant that the Council of Governors be deeply involved in the conference. They should listen keenly and take appropriate actions to eliminate those superficial barriers.
Investors also complained of difficulties in starting new businesses and high cost of utilities such as water and electricity and whose supply is even unreliable.
But even more striking is the concern that although the government has publicly declared intent to promote small- and middle-level enterprises by giving them business, the vendors are hardly paid.
LOANS FOR WOMEN
The national and county governments owe traders huge sums of money, pushing most of them to bankruptcy.
Loans for women and youth have not been helpful either.
We are encouraged about the conference because it offers a chance to showcase what Kenya's industrial and business sectors have to offer.
It should go deeper and rally commitment to creating appropriate legal, administrative, policy and infrastructural changes to ease doing business.