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Just like any other country, since our country Kenya attained its independence in 1963 the main objective of our leaders has been to offer the citizens of this an improvement of the standards of the quality of life. This is done mainly through the public organizations established to cater some of the needs for the people. These organizations sometimes go ahead to have contracts with themselves or organizations from other state in order to meet their mandate. The concept of the contract system originated in the 1960’s by Simon Nora to improve the public sector enterprise in France.
A good example of these organizations is the with is a mandate in the standardization of goods both during exports and import. Since KEBS does not has such a great manpower and the goods have to be inspected at their point of origin before import, they get to enter into contract with agents from different countries who get to inspect the goods on their behalf.
This operation has guided a program called the Pre-export Verification of Conformity (PVOC)to Standards.
The purpose of this study is to see how the PRE-EXPORT VERIFICATION OF CONFORMITY has aided the Kenya Bureau of Standards to fulfill its mandate and also some of the challenges the faces PVOC in accomplishing its purpose fully.
When KEBS was established by an act of parliament of Kenya National Assembly under the Standard act, cap 496 of laws of Kenya it was given a key mandate of protecting consumer health and safety as well as the environment and in addition promote fair trade practices.
Over the years Kenya Bureau of Standards has fulfilled its mandate by always ensuring that only quality goods gain entry into the country as provided for in the standards act and the verification of conformity to Kenya Standards of imports order 2005 (legal notice NO 78 OF 15TH July 2005).Now with help of this new program, it has been in a position to control all types of goods used by the public and mainly just take charge of every kind of operation that has needed to be checked its standardization for the sake of safety
Importation of any counterfeit goods is not allowed. Where goods are established to be counterfeits, no Certificate of Conformity (COC) shall be issued even if the products/goods meet the relevant specifications (standards) hence PVOC has of recently since its formation been the key factor in trade and approval of actual legal and illegal goods. Exporters of suspect counterfeit goods are always expected to provide adequate evidence of the genuineness of their goods before a COC is used. The evidence must be of beyond reasonable doubt.
Where testing has to be carried out, the final decision on conformity of goods will be taken not earlier than the completion of testing. Exporter may contact the concerned PVOC Agent in order to obtain the Certificate of Conformity (COC) or to know certification decision prior to shipment.
The PVOC programs requires that goods are inspected at their countries of origin before entry to Kenya. With this in mind since KEBS has no such kind of manpower to have employees all over the country, they get to appoint agents who get to do the inspection before they get to be imported. Some of these agents appointed by KEBS include;
These agents have been contracted by KEBS to undertake PVOC activities and their role specifically entails, sampling, testing, sealing of full load containers and issuance of certificates of conformity.
In February 2018, Intertek was awarded a further contract by KEBS to operate the PVOC program on KEBS behalf in regions such as parts of Europe including the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, China Region including Hong Kong and Taiwan, India Subcontinent including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan, Far East Asia countries, Australasia and Southern Africa. ,
All importers and exporters have to make sure they attain a certificate of conformity before shipment this is after the testing of their products by KEBS or their agents based in the different countries in the world and making to approve that their goods meet the required standards.
The whole idea of PVOC was not to punish the exporters and imports but for the sake of ensuring that goods exported and imported are of standards hence KENYA BUREAU OF STANDARDS has been in the move to ensure that it is efficient enough not to contradict with the schedules of the manufactures through delays.
The PVOC program has been designed to provide maximum elasticity to exporters and importers by providing different possible routes for obtaining the Certificate of Conformity. The route applied depends on the frequency of exporters’ shipments to Kenya and the level of compliance they are able to demonstrate initially when applying for certification.
Route A (Consignment inspection and Testing) Under this Route, products to be shipped have to be both tested and physically inspected to demonstrate conformity to relevant standards. This route is open to all products being exported by either traders or manufacturers.
Route B (Product Registration) This route offers a fast track certification process for goods with reasonable and consistent levels of quality through registration of such products by the PVOC Agent. Product registration is recommended to Exporters having frequent shipments of consistent products. The registration is valid for a period of one year. Shipments of registered products are exempted from mandatory testing and certification may be based on physical inspection only. However, random testing of registered product is still required to ensure product conformity throughout the registration period.
This route is open only to manufacturers who can demonstrate existence of a quality management system in their production/ manufacturing process. It involves auditing of such production processes and licensing of products manufactured thereof by authorized PVOC Agent(s) in line with ISO Guide 28: 2004. On successful conclusion of this process, the manufacturer is presented with a License for the relevant products valid for a period of one (1) year. Licensed products shall be subject to random physical inspection by authorized PVOC Agent(s) prior issuance of Certificate of Conformity and subsequent shipping of the same. However, the PVOC Agent(s) carry out limited testing during the license valid period.
Therefore, on my own opinion the PVOC has been a successful project and has really aided KEBS to fulfill its mandate as stipulated in the standards act especially in ensuring that all good transacted between the country are of good quality for the sake of all citizens and also to make sure that good trade practices are maintained.
Every state has its standards company that they use to check goods before they get their countries of which all these corporations differ in their regulations of which Kenya is regarded to be so uptight on the inspecting of the goods than most countries.
Conformity assessments to inspect compulsory standards do vary for partner states i.e. The level of import inspection, including Pre-shipment Verification of Compliance (PVOC), also differs markedly amongst Partner States.
With Kenya going ahead to inspect all products being imported, whereas Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda only inspect those that fall within the scope of Compulsory Standards. . The varying conformity assessment also translates to varying fees payable for the Import Inspection which increases the cost of doing business. EAC Partner States have implemented or are in the process implementing import inspection scheme called Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVOC) aims to address the challenges posed by varying import inspection as a conformity assessment activity.
The pre- export verification was first introduced by Kenya but was later adopted by some of the member states. Despite Kenya introducing it it’s still at the policy level whereby an importer may choose not to use it but incurs additional costs. The Tanzania has amended its Standards Act No. 1 of 1977 to include in its legislations. PVOC was put on hold by the political level in Uganda pending further review and was only reinstated on the 1st June 2013.This shows that with Kenya coming up with idea of PVOC has really had a positive effect on the neighboring country.
This just gives it a positive kick the maybe PVOC was impartial the key to promote trust with most state especially the neighbors which we trade with mostly.
Analysis has classified import standards measures under non–tariff barriers of trade (NTB) known as Technical Barriers to Trade mainly includes standards, conformity assessment and certification. In the implementation of the PVOC program the values of imports declined. This being a negative show from what the program was actually intended for.
This decline is mainly due to lack of trust from most manufactures and also the expense that they have to go through to attain the certificate of conformity is discouraging for them to export and import goods. This kind of challenge is what makes it hard for KEBS to implement this program in most countries. It has been very hard for most importers to comply and it has forced KEBS to return or fail to accept most importers and eventually turning back most them.
Another is lack of an appropriate platform for sharing the exemption data with DPC at KRA. This sometimes result to miscommunication or delay and hence making it difficult for the implementation of the PVOC effectively for the positive result it is set to bring for the sake of quality products
They also said that increased number of certificates, have caused delays for local manufacturers entry approvals, and therefore affected clearance time. KEBs further states that to address this challenge, they plan to introduce a local COC to exempted manufacturers, to be issued for every consignment to facilitate faster approvals.
This will allow more exporters and importers to be served faster and hence will not discourage the flow of goods from out and in of the county. There have been complaints from most manufactures that the delay has resulted to them exporting fewer goods because it takes longer for their goods to get cleared ready for export.
Where the applicant was suing the first parting for failing to approve a waiver of the PVOC for a car the she was importing and also suing KRA second respondent for failing to register the vehicle claiming that it was under bad faith. The court however dismissed the application and said that What the Applicant was asking this Court to do was to substitute its opinion for that of KEBS. The Applicant has failed to demonstrate that in reaching the decision KEBS acted illegally, irrationally or without complying with the rules of natural justice. The application before the Court failed and the same was therefore dismissed.
According To my own assessment the Pre- export Verification of conformity has been of good use and has really helped a lot especially in identifying substandard goods. Recently we had a case of sugar which was detected right before it fell into the consumer’s hands that it was not good for consumption. Contraband sugar was destroyed at the Mombasa port which was a safety measure for the public.
The PVOC has brought the scrutiny that KEBS needed to keep track on kind of products being used in Kenya and getting out of the country.
KEBS urges everyone that before using any kind of product they should look if the product has the standardization mark. This is because the standardization mark is a good signal to show that KEBS has actually approved the use of that product.
For manufacturers to use the standardization mark they have to earn it through the right process and KEBS has the power to suspend or withdraw the use of that standardization mark majorly because of various reasons which may include.
I would only recommend that KEBS should create more manpower especially at the points of exports in all countries to make it more efficient for the PVOC to be implemented and avoid delay of goods for the sake of the manufactures.
Most manufactures have also been complaining of the expense to attaining the certificate of conformity. KEBS should reduce the prices for attaining the certificate especially for the local manufacturers who try to export their goods. This would be more encouraging and at the same time the PVOC will serve its purpose for the wellbeing of the public.
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