The Kenya Flower Council participated in a retreat with the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Trade, Finance and Planning to review amendments to the Special Economic Zones Bill. The meeting held at the Travellers Beach Hotel in Mombasa was organized by KEPSA, where KFC is an active Member.
The Bill has already gone through the first reading before the National Assembly and it seeks to establish a legal framework for the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and regulation of entities operating in these zones.
The chair of the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Trade, Finance and Planning, Hon. Benjamin Langat, appreciated the input of the Private Sector on the Bill. He observed that the bill could only achieve its objective by taking into account the interests of the Private sector.
KEPSA CEO, Carole Kariuki observed that the SEZ bill will provide an enabling legal framework for Kenya’s industrial expansion and manufacturing strategy. She emphasized the need to draw lessons from other countries that have enacted SEZ legislation to maximize on the potential for SEZ to promote economic growth and development through investment in the zones.
Mr Jean Paul, an IFC expert working on SEZ legislation, pointed out the key strengths and potential areas of improvement of the bill. He urged the Parliamentarians to consider some of the provisions in Ethiopia’s recently enacted SEZ bill to ensure Kenya’s law contained adequate incentives.
His key recommendations included:
- Vesting greater authority on the agency responsible for SEZ to determine all relevant aspects of establishment such as incorporation and registration of SEZ companies
- Reducing bureaucratic procedures in the issuance of work permits and residence permits
- Designation of a one stop shop on SEZ to create certainty on procedures and build investor confidence
- Building certainty on transition of firms operating under EPZs to SEZ
- Strengthening dispute resolution by creating timelines within which disputes must be resolved and a clear appeal process
Participants underscored the need to consider incentives that encourage investment in the SEZ and maximized economic benefit. It was agreed that local firms supplying goods and services to SEZ firms should benefit from the zones as a means of maximizing the impact of special economic zones on the overall economy.
The Parliamentary Departmental Committee undertook to engage the Private Sector further as the bill progressed into the second reading and before it is enacted into law.