OPINION: Heads of agencies allowing fake goods should have resigned yesterday

The on-going purge on contraband and counterfeits in the country shows one thing: the private sector is a major contributor to corruption and lack of a corporate culture in the running of the public sector.

While the biggest blame goes to the relevant government agencies that failed in doing their job and their heads have refused to take responsibility in discharging,  they ought to have stepped down or at least offered an explanation how the illegal items reached the country.

The bodies that are expected to play a critical role in protecting Kenyans are quiet and have left Kenyans on their own. Are they waiting for the President to ask them to move?

With such kind of attitude, will the same institutions help the President achieve the Big Four agenda?

What impact will the discovery of illegal goods in Kenya in such quantities have on the country’s trade externally, both in terms of legitimate exporters to the Kenyan market, and on the perception on the quality of goods being exported from Kenya?

This is a serious matter that would obviously worry anybody entrusted with marketing Kenya as a destination for Foreign Direct Investments and our export business.

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For a long time, Kenyan products have faced several challenges especially accessing external markets which have frustrated traders and entrepreneurs from the country as their products cannot compete globally. What will be the immediate impact of the current situation and will it extend to other countries that get their goods through Kenyan ports?

The President Launched the Single Window Kenya TradeNet System in May 2014, and noted that International Trade in Kenya was cumbersome and involved submission of large volumes of information and documents to Government authorities to comply with import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements, which was frustrating for the investors. How far has this helped the country’s business environment?

As laid out in many of the policy documents and treaties Kenya is a signatory to, the Business Sector is expected to benefit from improved services rendered by inspection and conformity assessment bodies and better product quality, thus leading to increased access to regional and international markets for Kenyan products.

The purpose is to ensure that as many Kenyan products as possible access both regional and international markets as a result of the enhanced compliance with relevant international standards and technical regulations which have always remained a major hindrance to our products entrance to the larger global market. Despite the country having several unique products, it  has remained a poor exporter.

It would seem that the heads of the various agencies responsible for the influx of the contraband and counterfeits are either contemptuous of the actions by the Ministry of Interior, which has been doing the bursts, or they don’t care. We have not even seen the Ministry of Trade supporting or accompanying officials from the Office of the President or security agencies doing the run downs. Or do they doubt that these goods entered the country illegally or any tax was lost?

While the deputy head of public service blamed some of what is happening on laxity of the border controls, its worrying that most of the products went through legal entry points into the country, were stored and cleared, transported through normal haulier services, kept in official government godowns or facilities, but none of the institutions directly involved or is responsible has stepped down or apologised to Kenyans.

Executives in the private sector, whose companies are involved in the illegal business and tax evasion, need to resign or have their companies held accountable while at the same time having relevant business associations/membership bodies where they belong telling Kenyans what actions they are taking against them.

None of the heads of the public agencies involved in checking on movement of quality goods in Kenya or institutions mentioned in mega corruption has accepted responsibility or for example stepped aside to pave way for investigations. What role are professional bodies doing in helping the country fight corruption?

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