The European Union (EU) envoys have pledged their support to Kenyan government on the war against graft and counterfeits.
This took place during the ambassadors’ meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi ahead of the launch of a dialogue forum between the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and European Union Business Council.
According to the President’s Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) the EU envoys to Kenya have, in one united voice, declared their full support for the ongoing purge against runaway corruption and the crackdown on counterfeit goods in the country.
According to statistics relesed by the Kenya Association of manufacturers (KAM) on counterfeit, many counterfeit products evade taxation, and in doing so they appropriate huge portions of the national revenues.
“This explains the recent upsurge of fictitious invoicing which has been flagged by the Kenya Revenue Authority facilitate tax evasion. The Government has declared loss of billions of Kenya shillings to this racket which, in addition to inflating the cost of sales and aiding in the under-declaration of imports, it catalyses the smuggling of uncustomed goods. Recent statistics by the Government indicates that it loses over Kshs 200 billion annually as potential income.” Said the then KAM Chair Ms Flora Mutahi in a statement.
PSCU said in a statement that the Ambassadors who met the President at State House, Nairobi ahead of the launch of a dialogue forum between the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and European Union Business Council said corruption and related economic crimes are a major hindrance to the growth of enterprises and expansion of the investment environment in the country.
Led by the Head of delegation of the European Union (EU) to Kenya Amb. Stephano Dejak, the envoys expressed their support and encouraged President Kenyatta for the sweeping crackdown on corruption and related economic crimes including proliferation of counterfeit goods in the country.
To demonstrate their commitment in deepening relations between Kenya and the EU, the envoys committed to increase funding for Kenya’s counter-terrorism activities, the Kenya Coast Guard service, value-chain addition in the blue economy and agribusiness programs.
In the meeting attended by Deputy President William Ruto and several Cabinet Secretaries, the EU committed to adding more funds to support of AMISOM and other peace keeping initiatives involving Kenya.
The envoys from 18 EU member states also said they fully support President Kenyatta’s Big 4 development agenda and as a way forward, the bloc committed to deepen its partnership with the government in the development of skilled labour through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
They said it is through technical and vocational training that the country can build adequate human resource capacity to enable the youth to engage in gainful employment.
On the emerging blue economy sector, the envoys thanked the President for being the African champion and pledged to support Kenya to reap maximum benefits from its vast maritime resources.
EU to help in the development of blue economy sectors
The envoys said they will pool their collective experience and utilize it to assist Kenya to accelerate momentum in the development of blue economy sectors such as fisheries and maritime transport for wealth and employment creation.
On the EU-KEPSA forum, the envoys thanked President Kenyatta for facilitating the dialogue saying it will go a long way in enhancing mutually beneficial commercial ties between Kenya and the European Union.
“The dialogue we are holding today sends a strong message to the world of how much Kenya values its development partners,” said Ambassador Dejak.
President Kenyatta thanked the EU for its continued support for Kenya’s development agenda adding that the new pledges by the envoys will help fastrack the country’s push towards attaining the middle income economy status as envisioned in the nation’s Vision 2030 development agenda.
While responding to concerns raised by the envoys regarding delays in clearance of cargo at the port of Mombasa and the challenge of counterfeit goods entering the country, President Kenyatta assured them that every effort is being made to enhance effeciency at the port and that a multi-agency team set up by the government to battle the the menace of counterfeits in the country is winning the war.
“We have consolidated all agencies (from 26) to four and this will create more efficiency in the clearing of goods at the port,” the President said.
The President said he will continue spearheading the war on corruption and welcomed the support of the EU in the struggle saying his determination to restore integrity in the country will never be derailed.
“We are aware that there are those who are out working tirelessly to frustrate the process being undertaken to curb corruption so that we can go back to the old system. We will not be hoodwinked by their sideshows,” President Kenyatta assured.
On national cohesion, President Kenyatta reiterated his commitment to building a more cohesive and peaceful country adding that efforts to unite Kenyans will intensify in coming days.
“We are committed to ensuring that Kenya changes for the better. That is why we are working hard to build a cohesive society. Cohesiveness is not a political agenda,” the President said.
New expansion plans worth $395.6 million
During the EU-KEPSA meeting, several Kenyan and foreign companies outlined their expansion as well as new investment plans in the country totaling to over Sh40 billion ($395.6 million).
Afrinol Holdings Ltd, Nopiaride, BASF and Noorbrook Pharmaceuticals are some of the companies looking to expand their local investment portfolios.
Others are FunKidz, Optiven Real Estate, Delarue, Unity Homes, Tatu City, General Electric and Bidco which has lined up four new industries.
Isuzu will set up a new production line, CEER Processing Ltd is working on new factories in Mombasa and Kisumu while Centum is investing in industrial parks in Kilifi and a fruit processing plant in Kwale at a cost of Sh600 million ($5.9 million).
Horticultural firm Sun Ripe is already taking advantage of the recently signed export of frozen avocado deal between Kenya and China and has so far created 200 new jobs while BAT is growing its footprints in various parts of the country by recruiting more tobacco farmers.