Kibaki declines to sign price control Bill
Posted Wednesday, September 1 2010 at 17:31
President Mwai Kibaki has refused to assent a Bill that seeks to control the prices of essential goods.
Parliament received the President’s refusal via a memorandum sent to the Speaker of the National Assembly, which he read out to MPs Wednesday afternoon.
The President said in his memorandum that by setting out the maximum prices of goods considered essential, Kenya would be going against agreements it has signed under the World Trade Organisation.
He also said the setting of maximum prices and the accompanying service charges for these goods would be impossible to implement and spark an increase of unscrupulous traders.
These, said the President, would impose on Kenyans the same problems the Bill introduced by Mathira MP Ephraim Maina sought to avoid.
It had set out the Finance minister’s role in setting out the prices of maize, maize flour, wheat, wheat flour, rice, cooking fat or oil, sugar, paraffin, diesel and petrol.
But the President said: “Apart from going against the policy of liberalisation, this clause also violates the fundamental principle of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on National Treatment, of which Kenya is a contracting party.”
The agreement by the WTO prevents member states such as Kenya from setting price controls that would hurt exporting countries that sell the same goods.
“This obligation places a duty on Kenya to avoid measures, including price controls, which would have prejudicial effects on other contracting parties supplying imported products to Kenya,” the President said in the memorandum on the bill.
The President also disagreed with a provision in the bill to fix maximum prices of goods and maximum service charges to be made for the goods.
President Kibaki however argued that “it will be difficult to police and may lead to an increase in unscrupulous traders and ultimately cause a disadvantage to the citizens.”
The bill was passed by MPs on June 24 and immediately caused a storm as manufacturers said it would kill industries and slow down the growth of the economy.
Alcohol Bill signed
The good news for the alcohol industry is that the President has assented to the Alcohol Control Bill, which allows the brewing and sale of chang’aa and other traditional liquors.
It will see the Government legalise the production, sale and consumption of the products and is expected to radically change advertising, bar licensing and drinking hours.
The Bill’s assent comes in the wake of alcohol-related deaths in Shauri Moyo, Kibera, Laikipia, Thindigua in Kiambu and Mutindwa Estate in Nairobi.
It sparked protests from established brewers but received the support anti-drug campaigners as it prohibits the promotion of alcoholic drinks with the aim of increasing consumption.
This means that the seasonal beer promotions where consumers buy more to increase their chances of winning will come to an end.