The government is set to establish a one-stop office to enable wholesalers and retailers access all national and county governments’ business information and licences as one way of revitalising wholesale and retail trade currently facing various challenges.
This is one of the many provisions contained in the National Trade Policy, which was launched yesterday during the first day of the Kenya Trade Week, a three –day event that brought together players and stakeholders in the sector.
To help the currently ailing retail sector, the policy stipulates that government will promote proper county physical planning standards of retail business zones backed by economic feasibility of businesses in all neighbourhoods in urban centres and along transport corridors complete with supportive infrastructure, services and amenities.
The policy, which is a product of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives notes that currently retail trade has had a number of challenges and constraints.
This includes the legal and regulatory environment, business premises, the supply chain, capacity development issues as well as financing issues. Others have also been immersed in arising internal wars and pilferage from staff.
“The retail sub-sector is regulated through several registrations and licensing agencies that make the cost of doing business high. Licensing of retail outlets is used as tool of revenue generation other than being based on best practices such as health, security and environment considerations,” the policy states.
While efforts have been made in the past to streamline the sector by eliminating some licences and simplifying procedures of acquiring retail business licences, not much has been achieved.
The policy observes that for the rural-based retail outlets, registering a business is too costly. Also with trade liberalisation, several manufacturers and wholesalers have opened retail outlets which give price advantage over the general retailers dealing in the same products.
“Large supermarkets are also setting up branches in small towns and as a result of their bulk procurement they receive substantial trade discounts that enable them offer lower prices leading to unfair competition with the small-scale retailers.”