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Kenyan firms clash with KEBS

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 9 – The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has accused the Kenya Bureau of Standards of allowing cheap imports and substandard goods into the local market.

In a hard-hitting statement delivered by the Anti-Counterfeit and Illicit Trade Committee Chairman Polycarp Igathe, the manufacturers association alleged that KEBS was planning to lower product standards, which would create room for counterfeit goods imports.

Mr Igathe said the association was in possession of compelling evidence on the intended plans which, if executed, would see Kenya flooded with substandard and counterfeit goods.

 "We are aware KEBs is contemplating to lower product standards to allow cheap Indian and Chinese products into the country," he claimed and cited batteries, ball pens and shoe polish as main targets.

At a press conference also attended by KAM chairman Vimal Shah, Mr Igathe said the plans posed a great risk to local consumers who find it difficult to differentiate between genuine goods and counterfeit ones.

"It is unfortunate that the manufacturing sector has not realised the required support from the existing government arms and specifically KEBS, in matters relating to curbing illegal trade and counterfeiting," he said.

Mr Igathe who is the Managing Director of HACO industries said the recently enacted anti-counterfeit products laws were not doing much to reduce counterfeiting and called for their suspension.

"Why enact laws for filling purposes? There is always a total failure of systems and laws that the government makes yet they cannot be implemented," he said.

He demanded the immediate resignation of the KEBS Managing Director and a re-constitution of parastatal\’s board whose corporate governance he described as "wanting."

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Mr Shah on his part said the increased rate of counterfeits and substandard goods in the market were "making the cost of business increasingly high."

"We want a level playing field to be able to do business. KEBS should be in a position at all times to protect consumers and manufactures. They are not performing their duty."

"We are for quality, we are standards. We want to make sure that all products that are made in Kenya meet the standards," he said.

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