Kenya’s Import Bills Is A ‘5×5’ Increase

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The Kenya’s State departments and parastatals are having a swell time ordering goods from oversees left, right and centre; this is because the rate at which the goods are bein ordered from abroad by State departments and parastatals has increased nearly five-fold in five years, punching holes in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call for higher domestic products quota in public procurement.

Import orders directly placed by the government hit Ksh52.20 billion in the January-November 2018 period, latest official data shows, a 473.86% surge compared to Ksh9.096 billion in the same period in 2013.

The government’s import bill, statistics collated by the Central Bank of Kenya, has been rising steadily over the years since the Jubilee administration took reins of power on April 19, 2013, pointing to high appetite for foreign goods.

The CBK data does not give particulars of the imports, but the items commonly ordered by state departments and agencies include furniture, textiles, paper products, food, arms and machinery.

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Kenyatta said on December 9, 2014 that ministries and parastatals had been given clear instructions to increase the quota of locally produced goods in support of the “Buy Kenyan and Build Kenya” initiative.

He went ahead to increase the local content quota in supplies to the government from 30% under his predecessor Mwai Kibaki’s regime to 40% on June 1, 2015 to stimulate orders from domestic factories. The presidential directive was aimed at ensuring that at least 40% of supplies to ministries and parastatals are sourced locally.

Fresh statistics, nonetheless, show that government imports in the 11-month period through November have steadily increased from just short of Ksh9.10 billion in 2013 to Ksh12.09 billion the year that followed, KSh29.41 billion (in 2015), Ksh32.26 billion (in 2016) and Ksh38.18 billion (2017).

Annual data further show direct government imports more than tripled to nearly Ksh41.72 billion in 2017 from Ksh10.09 billion in 2013 and Ksh18.15 billion in 2014.

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Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the sector’s lobby, says in its Priority Agenda 2019 report that it wants the government to “fast-track finalization of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal (PPAD) Regulations on provision of preference and reservation for locally manufactured goods and services”.

Kenya remains a net import country with government and commercial orders from foreign countries rising 2.99 percent to Ksh1.63 trillion billion in the January-November 2018 period.

Exports in the review period rose 4.41% to nearly Ksh568.87 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of Ksh1.06 trillion compared with Ksh1.04 trillion in the same period of 2017.

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