MPs summon Peter Munya over controversial used cars policy
MPs have summoned Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya over the controversial draft national automotive policy, which seeks to limit the age of imported used cars.
Mr Munya is expected before the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives committee of the National Assembly, which is chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega.
This comes after Kiambu MP Jude Njomo sought clarifications from the ministry following a public outcry from the second hand car dealers that they were not involved in the formulation of the policy they claim will render millions of Kenyans jobless.
The policy among others, wants to limit the age of imported used cars with engine capacity above 1500cc from the current eight years to five years by the end of this year and then to three years by 2021, which the Kenya Auto Bazaar Association (Kaba) says cannot go unchallenged.
On Sunday, Mr Kega said that the committee is expecting Mr Munya on Monday to respond to the issues raised by the industry players.
“We have already put the case before the CS and we expect him to appear without fail and respond to the issues,” Mr Kega said.
Consequently, Mr Kega faulted Mr Munya’s decision saying that until the issue of duty is addressed, the age of imported used cars should not be reduced from the current eight years.
He says it will make it difficult for Kenyans to own cars as the “so called locally assembled” are even beyond the reach of those with the financial muscle.
“As a CS, you cannot just wake up and make far reaching policies without consulting the representatives of the people (MPs) and industry players. That is wrong and it must stop,” Mr Kega said.
Mr Njomo wants the CS to provide the details of his decision and what it portends to the country’s economy given that the industry directly or indirectly employs about 2.5 million Kenyans.
The Kiambu MP also wants the CS to shed light on whether Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) notice number KS 1515:2000 of 2018 on Kenya Standard Code of Practice for Inspection of Road Vehicles has complied with the requirements of the Constitution and the Statutory Instruments Act that require public participation and parliamentary approval.
Although the government says that policy seeks to protect the local motor car assembling industry, Mr Kega says there needs to be a clear definition of what an assembled car is as the cars being imported are complete.
“We are not negotiating with the CS about this and what we are saying is that the government can start with the trucks, pickups lorries but not for private saloon cars,” the Kieni MP said.
Already, Kaba has said it will not allow validation of draft policy saying it is “outright” discriminatory and bad news for the country.
Kaba chairperson Major (Rtd) John Kipchumba claimed that the proposed policy is tailor-made to cushion the Asian, European and American multinational interests from huge tax exemptions.
“This clearly spells doom for more than 85 per cent of Kenyans, whose only hope of ever owning a car, entirely depend on an imported used car. The government should give us a chance to choose the car we want to buy, own and drive,” Mr Kipchumba said.
A meeting called by the ministry last month to validate the draft policy turned chaotic after Kaba members demanded that their views be incorporated first.
Major (Rtd) Kipchumba claimed that Kenya has no automotive manufacturing industry and that what the government is proposing is akin to favouring the multinationals operating in the country at the expense of Kenyans.
According to the chairperson, what Kenya has are new motor vehicle franchise holders who are importing Fully Built Units and assemblers who are also importing mainly Semi Knocked Down units.
The units include bolts and nuts, which they ship in from abroad and assemble with very minimum workforce.