The value of goods ordered from abroad by State departments and parastatals has increased nearly five-fold in five years, punching holes in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call for higher domestic products quota in public procurement.
Import orders directly placed by the government hit Sh52.20 billion in the January-November 2018 period, latest official data shows, a 473.86 percent surge compared to Sh9.096 billion in the same period in 2013.
The government’s import bill, statistics collated by the Central Bank of Kenya, has been rising steadily over the years since the Jubilee administration took reins of power on April 19, 2013, pointing to high appetite for foreign goods.
The CBK data does not give particulars of the imports, but the items commonly ordered by state departments and agencies include furniture, textiles, paper products, food, arms and machinery.
Mr Kenyatta said on December 9, 2014 that ministries and parastatals had been given clear instructions to increase the quota of locally produced goods in support of the “Buy Kenyan and Build Kenya” initiative.
He went ahead to increase the local content quota in supplies to the government from 30 per cent under his predecessor Mwai Kibaki’s regime to 40 per cent on June 1, 2015 to stimulate orders from domestic factories. The presidential directive was aimed at ensuring that at least 40 per cent of supplies to ministries and parastatals are sourced locally.
Fresh statistics, nonetheless, show that government imports in the 11-month period through November have steadily increased from just short of Sh9.10 billion in 2013 to Sh12.09 billion the year that followed, Sh29.41 billion (in 2015), Sh32.26 billion (in 2016) and Sh38.18 billion (2017).
Annual data further show direct government imports more than tripled to nearly Sh41.72 billion in 2017 from Sh10.09 billion in 2013 and Sh18.15 billion in 2014.
Locally manufactured goods
Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the sector’s lobby, says in its Priority Agenda 2019 report that it wants the government to “fast-track finalisation of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal (PPAD) Regulations on provision of preference and reservation for locally manufactured goods and services”.
Kenya remains a net import country with government and commercial orders from foreign countries rising 2.99 percent to Sh1.63 trillion billion in the January-November 2018 period.
Exports in the review period rose 4.41 percent to nearly Sh568.87 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of Sh1.06 trillion compared with Sh1.04 trillion in the same period of 2017.