EDITORIAL: End policy confusion

Imported cars at the Port of Mombasa
Imported cars at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has now ruled out making inspection of goods at the country of origin optional, in an about-turn move just weeks after the Ministry of Trade had said that the checks would no longer be compulsory for importers.

The ministry had said the directive would ease traders’ woes over delays in cargo clearance and reduce the high cost of doing business occasioned by double verification at source and once the goods enter the country.

In 2015, amid concerns that high volumes of uninspected goods at the port was fueling Customs tax evasion and allowing easy flow of counterfeits into the country, the government ordered that cargo be inspected at the source of origin and issued with a certificate of inspection under the pre-export verification of conformity to standards (PVoC) programme.

However, its implementation dragged on for three years up to January 2019 with importers and experts arguing that the directive would increase cost of business and goods.

Soon after, then Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya ordered Kebs to stop inspecting cargo at entry ports and directed all importers to shift to the PVoC. In November, Mr Munya said the rule was no longer compulsory and that importers were free to ship goods to be inspected locally. It is this directive that Kebs has now reversed. The government seems to be going round in circles on policy directives.