The Senate will enact new laws to help facilitate the ease of doing business in all the 47 counties and the country at large, Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has said.
Lusaka said the Senate recognizes there are concerns, issues and practices that stand out as pertinent that need to be audited and addressed through repealing repugnant laws, new legislation and amending existing ones.
This follows numerous petitions from the public and various organizations which the House has already interrogated and adopted.
In his address on Friday during this year’s Senate Speaker’s Round Table with members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) at Diani, Kwale County, Mr. Lusaka, cited double taxation as one of the issues that needs to be addressed by the Senate owing to its implications on business.
“When one crosses from one county to the other for business purposes, they are subjected to double taxation and this needs to be addressed as one of the challenges hindering ease of doing business in counties,” he said.
The Speaker said the issue of pending bills also needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“It frustrates, stifles and discourages private sector activities and investments and must be sorted out,” he added.
He noted that the problem of pending bills is scaring most investors from going to counties wondering what was so difficult in settling the debts.
“Where is the problem? People go into business expecting to be paid promptly. We have had counties where business people are committing suicide while some are dying from stress since they have not been paid for the last six years,” said Mr. Lusaka.
Also needed is provision of necessary research and infrastructural capacity to counties to be knowledge-based to improve quality of development planning and market intelligence.
Lusaka urged the forum to identify more areas that require policy and legislative interventions and make appropriate resolutions that will assist KEPSA and the Senate to engage the executive and relevant agencies to find viable interventions and solutions.
He said apart from the forum providing an opportunity to re-invigorate the partnership between the Senate and the private sector, it also allows them to candidly dialogue on many significant issues.
“We are able to examine and understand the place of our institutions in the interconnected and complimentary relationship between law, economy and business,” he said noting that effective legal frameworks and systems are required to support an economy.
He said the two institutions must focus on their mission and complimentary framework to implement devolution and create conducive environment in counties through policy and legislation support for increased private sector investment and ease of doing business.
In addition, he stressed the need to strengthen and solidify the structured engagement that will enable the legislators in general and Senators in particular to share and listen to KEPSA and ask pertinent questions.
This, he noted, will be part of the greater effort to generate inputs into legislation that will lead to a achieving of desired impact on business environment in the devolved units.
He said the retreat came at a crucial time in the country’s development conversation and scheduled plan where the government has identified four key focus areas, the big 4 Agenda, to be executed in the next four years.
“Being devolved functions, the counties are the theatre where these acts will play out while the private sector is the cast,” he said.
He said the forum offers an opportunity to deliberate on, and examine the most appropriate approaches to facilitate achievement of the same.
“As a senate we must play a more proactive and significance role in overseeing the policy and executive framework that will lay and support the foundation for a successful implementation of devolution,” he added.
He called on the private sector to deepen collaboration with and lend their support to the Senate in order to effectively discharge its legislative and oversight mandate especially on matters of governance that are critical in shaping development in counties.
He said KEPSA has boards that correspond with Senate committees which could be used effectively to strengthen our engagement.
The KEPSA Chairman, Nick Nesbit said Kenya had climbed up the global ranking by 75 positions in the Ease of Doing Business Index to position 61.
“This is a crucial indicator that highlights the extensive red-tape in starting and running a business and investors’ willingness to do business in the country,” he said adding that all the issue needs to be continually addressed.
“Re-imagining Kenya’s Political Economy” is the theme of this year’s forum which was also addressed by among others, Senate Minority Leader, James Orengo, KEPSA Chief Executive, Ms. Carole Kariuki, businessman and Bidco Africa Chairman, Vimal Shah,
By Shaban Omar/James Muchai