KAM seeks incentives on easing of lockdown

Kenya Association of Manufacturers Chief Executive Betty Maina. Manufacturers want emergency rescue deal for businesses hit by Covid-19 restrictions. PHOTO| FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP The sector has been hard hit by the pandemic-driven fall in demand for goods, forcing them to cut operations and shed employees.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has already indicated a possibility of relaxing the movement restrictions between counties from July after months of lockdown.

Manufacturers have asked the State to ease importation of raw materials, relax operational restrictions and compel banks to cut the cost of loans as the country plans to reopen after three months of lockdown.

The industrialists also want the government to consider an emergency rescue package for businesses hard-hit by the effects of Covid-19 control restrictions with suggestions to have direct monetary support to their workers thrown out of employment.

Through their umbrella body the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), the makers of goods are pushing for faster processing of value-added tax refunds to their members to pump liquidity drained by slow demand as the pandemic sweeps through various sectors of the economy.

EASE REGULATIONS

“The government should ease regulations on the importation of raw materials, intermediate goods, industrial spares and machinery, especially where ports of origin have been closed down and inspecting agencies are not operating optimally,” the manufacturers wrote to Treasury PS Julius Muia.

In a detailed memo outlining measures that will enable the sector return to normalcy, the sector wants the emergency rescue fund to be set up, supported by development partners, to identify and support the most vulnerable businesses and entrepreneurs affected by Covid-19.

The sector also wants Treasury to compel commercial lenders through the Central Bank of Kenya and the national government to increase moratorium for loan repayments including interest to six to 12 months.

MONTHS OF LOCKDOWN

Manufacturers also want loan interest rates pushed down to eight percent and the entire loan and overdraft books granted a full waiver for the three months.“In addition to direct cash transfers to targeted individuals, indirect transfers to individuals through the manufacturers could be considered,” they wrote.The sector, which employs about 300,000 directly and three million indirectly has been hard hit by the pandemic-driven fall in demand for goods, forcing them to cut operations and shed employees.President Uhuru Kenyatta has already indicated a possibility of relaxing the movement restrictions between counties from July after months of lockdown.

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