The government should heed the manufacturers’ lobby cry that Kenya stands to lose much more that it could gain from the recent spate of crackdowns by regulators.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers is concerned that the aggressiveness with which the Kenya Revenue Authority, the National Environment Management Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, among others are bringing down the hammer on non-compliant companies is polluting the business environment and is likely to dissuade prospective investors.
The point, even as the regulators are seen to punish those who have fallen short, should not be so much to be vindictive as to ensure that they are put on a programme that allows them to comply within an agreed timeframe.
It is already worrying that some of the targeted firms have closed shop and thousands of their employees left jobless, and others have had to put up spirited court battles just to remain open.
What this means is that thousands of employees and their dependents are every day added to the statistics that is the powder keg of Kenya’s unemployment.
Given, tax evasion, avoidance or failure to follow laid down public safety regulations are serious offences that should not be overlooked.
Every firm must meet its tax obligations and operate in the legally defined space for the sake of our national prosperity. However, when regulators go at it hammer and tongs, it creates an unpredictable environment for businesses and creates fear among investors.
Instead of the current approach, we urge regulators to strike a balance between the need for compliance and ensuring that businesses continue as going concerns.