Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria’s plan to make membership to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) mandatory for small-scale businesses is unfair to them as it is an unnecessary cost, especially amid tough economic times.
Besides being unfair and misguided, it is also not the responsibility of the government to dictate to the business community which lobby they should join.
Joining the KNCCI, or any other private club, should remain voluntary. The CS should let the lobby convince businesses why they should be members by coming up with benefits attractive to SMEs. The lobby should also outline its track record of helping businesses to grow as a way of attracting new members.
KNCCI is a private outfit, albeit not-for-profit and limited by guarantee, and is not a government agency. Forcing it down the throats of traders is, therefore, a violation of their rights. It goes against the doctrine of freedom of association that is enshrined in the Constitution.
Worse, KNCCI membership will come at an additional cost to the traders. The cost of doing business in Kenya is already too high for the private sector. Instead of burdening traders, Mr Kuria should be concerned with making the local business environment conducive to investment.
The CS should cease his authoritarian style in running the ministry and allow businesses to thrive.
There are very serious things that his ministry should be dealing with—including coming up with policies that support businesses to recover from the shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic, the five-year drought and unfriendly foreign exchange rates, among others—not choosing private clubs for struggling traders to pay to join.