The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA) with support from the Business Advocacy Fund (BAF) and in collaboration with The Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA) are seeking the adoption and enactment of the proposed Kenya Customs Agent and Freight Forwarders Bill in Kenya. This provides a framework for coordination, training and self-regulation of customs agents and freight forwarders.
The Bill, also aims to enhance and promote professionalism, standards of practice and reduce unethical behavior in the industry through the registration and professional licensing of all customs agents and freight forwarders operating along the logistics value chain.
Importance and benefits of self-regulation in Kenya are, to:
- Enhance compliance to existing regulations for quality service delivery by introducing the professional code of ethics.
- Supplement government regulations by filling up regulatory gaps.
- Eliminate rogue agents through member registration and the creation a database of professional practitioners.
- Protect shippers, consumers of Customs clearing and freight forwarding services and the Customs agents and freight forwarders by re-defining the existing liability clauses.
- Enhance understanding of clearing and forwarding processes through introduction of mandatory training including Introduction of the continuing professional development (CPD) modules.
- Have a well effective monitored and effective approach of all activities as will be coordinated by the society.
- Standardization of the industry through the implementation of standard trading condition.
- Enhance ties with other regional National Customs authorities for increased trade.
- Conserve government resource spent on dispute resolution by setting up an internal dispute resolution mechanism under the law.
- Enhance revenue collection by the revenue authority through efficient clearing of goods.
- Lower cost of doing business through overall industry compliance and professionalism.
This will be achieved by:
- Establishing a society to govern the operations of customs agents and freight forwarders. The society will have a regulatory board to oversee certification and registration, a professional code of ethics, and disciplinary proceedings.
- Making the professional licensing of individual practitioners, and licensing by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), mandatory for each customs agent and freight forwarder.
- Making it mandatory for each customs agent and a freight forwarder to undergo standardised industry training to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to use modern technology and to apply the clearing process and regulations. This will include mandatory training under the continuing professional development programme currently being introduced to the industry to ensure knowledge of emerging trends and changes in the sector.
- Stating the compliance requirements and code of conduct for each industry participant, where this is not currently stipulated under EACCMA 2004 and the 2010 regulations.
- Establishing penalties for non-compliance across all relevant regulations, from customs agents’ errors to transport companies’ breaching of load weight rules.
- Stating each participant’s liability across the value chain, such that it is no longer the case that the customs agents or freight forwarders bear all liability.
- Making standard trading condition mandatory between customs agents and the importers, transporters, warehousing and shipping companies to avoid any party from suffering unnecessarily.
- Stating the customs agents’ minimum and standard fees to ensure shipping companies are not exploited through over-charging, customs agents are not exploited through underpayments or undercutting, and guaranteeing that the government collects its due income tax revenues from the clearing agents.
- Ensuring the government is involved in the formulation of industry policy by recommending it is represented on the proposed sector board. This has not been the case previously, leaving both the private sector and the government in a battle for supremacy when it comes to imposing laws and regulations.
- Promoting the role of women in the sector by recommending that at least one third of the council’s and registration board’s members are women, to address women’s current under-representation.