Members of Kenya's Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Trade, Finance, and Planning discussed amendments to Kenya's new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill during a retreat in Mombassa last week. Locus Economica Managing Director, Jean-Paul Gauthier was asked to attend on behalf of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) to speak on some of the key strengths and potential areas for improvement in the current version of the Bill.
Jean-Paul urged Kenya's MPs to bolster the SEZ Bill by:
- Streamlining and simplifying work permit, residence permit, and business licensing procedures through a single SEZ administrative agency operating one-stop shop;
- Adding timelines and clear appeal procedures to the Bill's investor-state dispute resolution provisions; and
- Clarifying the transition process for firms currently invested in zones under the current law.
Officials from the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, National Treasury, the Attorney General's Office, Kenya Revenue Authority, and private-sector and IFC representatives were also in attendance.
Under its contract with the IFC, Locus Economica crafted the initial versions of the SEZ Law and is currently developing a full suite of model SEZ Regulations in consultation with the Kenyan government. The bill will have its second reading in Parliament soon and then presented for a vote.
The retreat was organized by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), a private-sector advocacy organization that has been involved in negotiations over the bill. As noted by Hon. Benjamin Langat, the chair of the Committee, the private sector's input has strongly shaped the bill's drafting.