NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 2 – The Ministry of Industrialization has inaugurated board members of the Anti Counterfeit Agency in an effort to stop the influx and manufacture of counterfeit products in the country.
Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey on Wednesday said the 15-member board whose chairman is yet to be picked, would be charged with combating the trade in counterfeit goods which leads to losses of up to Sh40 billion in revenue per annum.
“This is not even what the manufacturers lose; it is simply what the government loses. The amount becomes colossal when you add what the manufacturers lose. We must therefore win this war of fighting the counterfeits. These goods not only affect the economy of a small country like ours but are a major global threat that should be fought effectively,” he said.
Mr Kosgey also stated that the board had received Sh100 million from the Treasury to kick start its programmes adding that the chairman would be selected once the board members had settled in.
“We have a little money to get the agency running. We also believe that between now and June we will have made good use of the Sh100 million in setting up the body and getting qualified inspectors to assess the validity of goods. We will also get time to get a feel of the market,” he said.
He explained that counterfeit goods increased job insecurity in the country further creating huge losses for the government.
“We lose jobs as a country if a manufacturer is unable to sell because his or her goods have been counterfeited; they start by laying off people. Therefore the jobs are transferred to the country where the counterfeit goods originated. Our economy is hugely impacted,” he observed.
Mr Kosgey also added that the government was especially concerned with the inflow of life threatening counterfeit products like drugs.
“It is estimated that 30 percent of drugs in the Kenyan market are fake and sometimes the efficacy of these drugs is zero. Now when you have someone giving you malaria tablets which have no efficacy at all it becomes a very serious breach of law; it becomes life threatening,” he said.
He asked all government bodies charged with the responsibility of handling goods brought into the country to join forces and combat the menace.
“We must work in collaboration with Customs Department, Kenya Revenue Authority, Poisons and Pharmacy Board, Kenya Association of Manufacturers and everyone else that has been grappling with this thing (counterfeit goods) and are familiar it. Our job here is well cut out and if we concert our efforts beginning now come next year we will be up and running,” he said.
He also singled out China, India and South East Asia as the main hubs of counterfeit products adding that Kenyan consumers were being duped.
“The counterfeit goods will be cheaper because they are usually substandard so the consumer will think they are getting a good bargain and go for the cheaper product while in essence they are being swindled. Consumers do not get value for their money,” he said.
The government took a long time to draw up the Anti Counterfeit Bill before it became an Act of Parliament. The Anti Counterfeit Act of 2008 was enacted last year and was signed by the President on 24th December the same year.