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Kosgey resurrects fight against counterfeits

NAIROBI, June 24 – Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey Tuesday disclosed that he had signed the Anti-Counterfeit Bill for publication and would soon present it to Parliament for debate.

Kosgey told reporters that the bill, which failed to sail through the second reading in the House last year, and which is expected to enforce the fight against counterfeit products in the country, is expected to be enacted before the end of 2008.

"This time round, we are going to make sure that it (Bill) goes through all the readings so that we can protect our consumers from harmful and substandard products," he vowed.

If passed, the law spells out the heavy penalties that should be meted out on offenders and also gives the Kenya Bureau of Standards the muscle to punish dealers of fake goods as well as enforcing the legislation.

The bill is also hoped to prevent the country from losing about Sh4 billion every month to unscrupulous traders and at the same time protect local businesses from collapse.

It is estimated that over 50 percent of the Kenyan market is flooded with fake goods ranging from mobile phones, cosmetics, batteries and even pharmaceutical products.

Speaking during the launch of the Kenya Bureau of Standards’ (KEBS) Strategic Plan and Service Charter, the minister however blamed the Customs Department for the influx of sub-standard goods and called for concerted efforts to eradicate the vice.

Kosgey also called on KEBS to put in place a quality assurance system that would facilitate increased access and acceptability of Kenya’s exports in both the external and internal markets, all of which are vital for the country’s economic growth as spelt out in the Vision 2030.

"If we want to survive in the international market, we must be able to produce quality goods that are acceptable and fairly-priced," he observed.

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Kosgey reminded the Bureau that it had a key role in developing and implementing a National Standards Policy and putting the "Made in Kenya" label on the international map.

"It is therefore commendable that KEBS has launched its Service Charter and the second Strategic Plan, which is expected to drive and maintain the momentum of quality production, innovation and industrial development as a way forward for Kenya," he noted.

At the same time, KEBS said it had ordered testing equipment worth Sh300 million, which would enhance and expand their scope for national testing.

KEBS Managing Director Eng. Kioko Mang’eli said the equipment, which would arrive in the country in the next two months, would help them modernise their laboratories.

Citing KEBS’ role in the initiative to harmonise more than 1,100 East African Standards, Mang’eli regretted that their role had not been acknowledged in the economic agenda, Vision 2030.

The MD added that they were pushing for it to be recognised, arguing that they also assist in trade facilitation.

He pledged to work together with all players in the industry to realise an effective infrastructure and conducive policy for standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment in the country.

"All these measures will provide an opportunity for Kenya to take business ahead by ensuring continuous improvement in quality production," Mang’eli reckoned.

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