Members of Parliament have refused to ratify Kenya’s trade pact with the UK, accusing unknown officials of sneaking in documents that had not been tabled in Parliament.
The lawmakers said until they are fully aware of the details of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the two countries, they will not ratify the agreement.
The lawmakers yesterday deferred debate on the report of the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee after some sections containing details of the pact were sneaked in without the authorisation of the Speaker.
The earlier report tabled before the House last week did not have annexures containing the details of the type of goods that the UK will ship into the country duty free for 25 years.
Some of the annexures missing from the report include custom details of the goods coming from the UK, a joint statement of the parties that signed the agreement and the concept definition of terms of the products originating from the UK.
Last week on Thursday, the committee tabled its report on its consideration of the EPA, setting the stage for debate by the House, which was scheduled for yesterday.
The committee’s chairman, Mr Aden Haji, yesterday came up with annexures that were not contained in the earlier report, raising concerns among the lawmakers that something is not adding up.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said it is a serious offence and against the Standing Orders for additional documents to be introduced in the floor of the House without his ratification.
“If the documents as confirmed by the deputy clerk were not received by this House, then it is a serious issue. Do not sneak in documents over lunch hour because that is not how business is conducted here,” Mr Muturi said
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“This is Parliament of the Republic of Kenya and must have a say on the ratification of the agreement. Those telling us they are in a hurry should have started yesterday,” Mr Muturi added.
Luanda MP Chris Omulele said without the details of the goods to be shipped into the country, then Parliament cannot ratify the agreement.
“The devil is in the details. We are entering into a treaty where we will cede some custom duty and until we see the details of the agreement, we will withdraw from this agreement,” Mr Omulele said.
Finance committee chairperson Gladys Wanga said as a committee dealing with tax issues, they were not involved in the negotiation process. “As far as we are concerned, we were kept in the dark,” Ms Wanga said.
Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said the House must now move with speed so as to amend the Ratification Act so that respective committees are involved in the negotiation process.
The deal between Kenya and UK provides full duty-free and quota-free market conditions for goods originating from East African Community partner state(s) into the market of the UK on a secure, long-term and predictable basis.
Kenya and UK Parliaments are required to ratify the agreement in order to take effect.
Last year, Kenya exported Sh49.5 billion worth of goods to UK up from Sh39.7 billion in 2019, while imports from UK dropped to Sh29.3 billion from Sh35.3 billion over the same period.