COFEK rejects planned price control law

May 9, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – The Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has opposed the intended re-introduction of the proposed Essential Goods Price Control Bill.

Secretary General Stephen Mutoro on Monday termed the proposed Bill by Mathira MP Ephraim Maina as unrealistic.

"Its\’ planned re-introduction without stakeholders’ input will be its undoing. Theoretically, it makes a good reading.  Its practical implementation is what makes us shudder just how realistic it could be," Mr Mutoro said in a statement.

He further questioned the intentions of the Mathira legislator saying: "To begin with, it is difficult to trust that Mr Maina is genuinely fighting for the poor. If he did, he would have led by example when his Budalang\’i colleague Ababu Namwamba filed a similar Motion and most MPs either skipped it or walked out of Parliament."

Mr Mutoro added that despite the popularity of the Bill among MPs and the public, it offered "cosmetic" solutions to serious challenges and consumers should not allow populist public relations gimmicks.

He argued that price controls could in the long term make markets uncompetitive and cause artificial fuel shortages as experienced last week.

"The high cost of living in Kenya is a man-made phenomenon.  It does not emerge out of a natural disaster. It is not necessarily about a weak regulatory regime. It is purely and squarely that of missing leadership. The political elite has little goodwill and interest, if any, to bring it down," the statement read in part.

The federation further said MPs should instead advocate for a Consumer Protection Bill that was provided for in the Constitution.

"Indeed it is a desperate time. But we must counter it with desperate measures. Instead of the current piecemeal and disjointed efforts, he would best have fast-tracked this (Consumer Protection Bill) legislation," read the COFEK statement.

Mr Mutoro said that the Kenya Law Reform Commission, COFEK and other stakeholders had worked out a draft Consumer Protection Bill which was nearly ready.

"All it requires is polishing and review by a broader set of stakeholders," he said.

He also said that the federation was due to meet the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Director PLO Lumumba on Monday afternoon to explore the issue of corruption as a factor to high consumer prices.

"The country must look at the cost of corruption as a factor to high consumer prices. Such corruption ranges from major scams such as Triton to poor regulation and skewed procurements," the statement read.

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