NAIROBI, October 17 – The Kenya Association of manufacturers (KAM) has expressed concern over increasing counterfeits in the country.
The association said the bogus products were threatening consumer health and safety and urged Parliament to fast track the enactment of the Anti Counterfeits 2008 Bill.
The chairman of the KAM anti-counterfeit and illicit committee Polycarp Igathe said the industry was losing revenue of up to Sh50 billion. The government on its part meets a Sh19 billion deficit.
“Counterfeiting is a criminal activity. It must receive due attention from all. To this end we urge the finalisation and enactment of the anti-counterfeit legislation and its implementation once it is enacted,” Mr Igathe said.
He pointed out that it was wrong to let the counterfeit business thrive due to a misunderstanding that business in the region would be built on whatever business opportunities available whether legal or illegal.
The association has already come up with a list of 500 major perpetrators of the vice.
“We as members of the business community have come together and have profiled individuals and businesses that are involved in the anti counterfeit trade, we are only waiting to have the proper legislation so that we can present these names to the government for action,” he said.
Under the status quo, the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Kenya Revenue Authority have no legal mandate to prosecute perpetrators of counterfeit crime.
However if the new Bill comes into place among the highlights will be the formation of an anti-counterfeit authority whose mandate will be to prosecute counterfeit cases.
Fines for the offence will also be more punitive with a proposed five year jail term for a first time offender, 15 years for second-time offenders and a fine of three times the value of the counterfeit goods impounded.
Members of the medical profession who were also part of the group expressed concern that resistance to drugs in the country was increasing by the day as a result of consumption of counterfeit drugs.
A member of the medical and regulatory affairs board, Dr William Mwaiu clarified that the new Bill would not stop the importation of generic drugs since it only prevents the influx of fake generic drugs.
“What is important is that we appreciate pharmaceutical companies import their drugs from various destinations but despite this being the case they should be protected from infiltration by counterfeit medicines,” Mr Mwaiu said.
According to KAM, the level of counterfeit drugs in Kenya is unacceptably high with over 50 percent of anti malarial drugs in the market being fake.
Key sectors worst affected by bogus products include software and music, electrical fittings and electronic equipment, processed foods, pharmaceutical products and dry cell batteries among others.