The Star (Kenya)
Even when you have the necessary permits, they will find something they can use to extract money. It’s very frustrating
A visit by a group of well-dressed persons claiming to be from the Kenya Revenue Authority is enough to send anybody into a state of panic. The individuals inevitably resort to demanding money after threatening their victims with arrest. State agencies now have SMS shortcodes through which the public can verify the identity of enforcement officers, but the vice continues.
Speaking of bribes, corruption in the public transport business is the best example of the consequences of granting enforcement authorities discretionary powers of arrest. The wide-ranging powers government agencies have over business leave no room for appeal. Public transport operators know from experience that going to court would be a waste of time, hence the tendency to negotiate on the roadsides. Another disadvantage of discretionary powers is it creates an uneven playing field because business owners who bribe gain favours while those that cannot bribe get victimised.
Apart from the day-to-day interaction with officialdom, business has to contend with abrupt changes in national policy that adversely affect operations. Recent changes in policy that put business in trouble include the 2018 crackdown on imported goods, the 2017 ban on plastic bags, the shift in transport of imported cargo from road to railway, the 2019 crackdown on sports betting, and the recent ban on imported used clothes as part of Covid-19 control measures. Those changes created upheaval in businesses, resulting in huge losses, closures and an increase in unemployment.
In its ‘Ease of Doing Business Report’, the World Bank says inefficient regulations can hamper the growth of business.
“Economies that score well on the Doing Business indicators benefit from a higher level of entrepreneurial activity. This in turn generates better employment, greater government revenue and higher incomes,” notes the World Bank.