Trade Minister Moses Kuria said he will propose the introduction of new taxes on imported clothes, to help develop the country’s clothing industry.
Kuria said the country has a rich textile industry that should be developed for the benefit of Kenyans.
“In the next budget bill or even earlier, I will propose a new tax of 25% on imported garments because now is the time for us to develop our garment industry for the benefit of Kenyans,” Kuria said.
He said imported clothes should be luxury and not the main source of clothes for Kenyans.
Kuria spoke while addressing garment industry stakeholders at a forum in Eldoret on Monday.
The minister said he is aware that second-hand traders will oppose the tax on clothes imported from abroad, but he pointed out that this is because they have not found cheap clothes from other sources.
“I agree with second-hand dealers because we have not given them an alternative, there are no cheap clothes produced in the country for sale,” he said.
Kuria, however, said he would continue the introduction of new tariffs on imported garments due to the long-term positive impact on the garment sector.
“We have done the same for some building materials that can be produced locally and although there has been an outcry, we cannot go back as we focus on local manufacturers,” Kuria said.
He said Kenyans should not be forced to rely on imported clothes, but the country has great potential in the clothing sector.
The minister asked the textile industry stakeholders to play their role to help transform the textile industry, including the success of local farmers.
“Our farmers are very enthusiastic and ready to play their role in cotton production. We just have to give them everything they need and they will produce enough,” Kuria said.
He claimed that the garment industry is a corrupt system that employs only 50,000 people, but could employ millions.
Kuria said those in the clothing industry are fortunate and should take advantage of the opportunities in the industry.
He said Kenyans have long believed that it is impossible, but there are many opportunities available.
“We can be independent in the production of clothes, which is a fundamental issue,” Kuria said.
He said that cotton cultivation can be spread in every ward where it is possible to cultivate the crop.