The idea behind import inspection at the port of origin was birthed from loopholes that translated into tax evasion and importation of substandard goods. Previously, only single importer goods placed in a container were inspected at source under regulations that established three types of clearance schedules, where inspecting firms issued importers with a Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC).
But in the new KEBS- KRA directive on consolidated cargo, a Certificate of Inspection (CoI) is issued showing that all goods are checked to confirm they are of high quality and conform to health, safety and environmental standards at the port of origin before they are packed in a container that is sealed by an inspection agency for shipping to Kenya.
Upon arrival, no other inspection is conducted but the handling of clearance via KEBS online single window. Cargo owners or their agents log requests for clearance and are informed of taxes to be paid as well as handling charges without the cargo being subjected to re-inspection on arrival. That’s how the system is designed to work.
However, it takes between three to four weeks to clear goods through Mombasa port due to the tiresome process of opening cargo to verify contents of a container and recommend the amount of import duty to be paid. With Key agencies Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Kenya Ports Authority on the ground, investors part with tens of millions of shillings in storage and processing fee, a substantial amount of resources that cripple businesses.
Business activities in the economy have been hurting over the situation at the port. During the 56th Madaraka day celebrations in Narok stadium held On Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta issued directives in line with the Government’s policy to promote the local industry and enterprise, “Buy Kenya Build Kenya”.
In one policy directive, the President ordered the Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Bureau of Standards to honour pre-shipment inspections done by KEBS appointed agents. He noted that this directive will ease of doing business in Kenya and protection of the public from harmful imports.
“In my working tour of the last week I have received consistent feedback from the business community that Kenya Bureau of Standards despite its good intentions and in the lawful discharge of its mandate has overly constrained the importation of goods by small and medium enterprises,” said Kenyatta.
“Imported goods, therefore, should not be subjected to additional inspection at the Port of entry except for cases legitimately suspected not to conform to the set standards,” said the President.
He added that the Government will also initiate business tax reforms and the restructuring of port logistics operations.
“All efforts will be made to guarantee the predictability of business operations,” said the President.
Although counterfeited goods have been the biggest threats to industries, too many authorities at the port subjecting cargo to reinspection have been sabotaging businesses. This directive by the president is a reprieve to Small to Medium businesses who have suffered in the hands of these authorities.