The gazette notice being challenged reduces penalty fees from twenty per cent to five percent
Omtatah wants it quashed
Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) wants the high court to strike out an application by activist Okiya Omtatah challenging its decision to reduce the penalty on uncertified goods.
Kebs argues that suspension of the Kenya Gazette notice spelling out the order would paralyse its operations.
"The petitioner fails to disclose that the effect of the orders sought in the application if granted will impede the performance of the 2nd respondent (Kebs) and thereby open up Kenya to substandard imports," says Kenbs in its defense.
Omtatah accuses Kebs of illegally reducing the penalty from 20 per cent to 5 per cent and wants this order reversed .
He argues that decreasing the fee would open a floodgate for the importation of substandard and unsafe goods into the Kenyan market risking the health of the consumers.
"Absence of offshore registered agencies puts the country at risk since there are no authorities that will inspect and ensure the Kenyan standards are adhered to, ’’ Omtatah said.
However, Kebs says Omtatah got it wrong because what he is claiming was reduced is not actually penalty fee but destination and inspection fee.
The court was told that the decision was informed by the need to ensure that the destination fees charged would conform to the country's obligation under the World Trade Organisation agreement.
"One of the issues arising was that the destination inspection fees charged in Kenya at the rate of twenty percent was way beyond the comparable fees charges at the international level."
According to Kebs, the activist gave the impression that it has no role in inspection and certification whilst it is clear that all inspections both locally and internationally are carried out by Kebs agents.
Omtatah argues that the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC), aimed at helping the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) test and sample goods entering the Kenyan ports which has clearly been undermined.
He said PVoC was to address environmental challenges arising from the destruction of the rejected imported hazardous goods.
"Absence of offshore registered agencies puts the country at risk since there are no authorities that will inspect and ensure the Kenyan standards are adhered to, ’’ Omtata said.
Omtatah further argued that the fee was waived without a legislation process and public participation in order for the notice to be implemented.
The case will be heard on March 23, 2020.