Reprieve for traders as Kebs defers start date of quality rules

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has exempted traders already holding stocks of imported products from mandatory acquisition of new fool-proof quality stamps for one year, giving a reprieve to retail outlets.

The standards regulator said imported products already in the market can be sold without the new import standardisation mark(ISM) stickers up to June 30, 2016.

“No imported product subject to this regulation will be allowed for sale in Kenyan market without ISM sticker after June 30. Importers with huge old stock likely to be in the market after the above deadline are aised to apply and acquire the new ISM stickers from Kebs,” the agency said in a statement, noting that any goods found without the ISM after the deadline shall be assumed substandard or counterfeit to be seized and destroyed.

The acquisition of tamper-proof stamps, which has since been rescheduled to kick off in September -instead of this month – is aimed at curbing fake Kebs quality marks and provides a platform through which Kebs will carry out real-time validation and verification of goods bearing its quality marks.

Highly secured

The system will also provide an online platform for consumers to authenticate the validity of certification of goods before purchase. The stamps will have highly secured features such as those used in excise stamps or visa stickers.

Each sticker will cost 49 cents that is payable directly to Kebs.

The country is currently battling to contain an inflow of counterfeits, especially from Asia, that have rendered locally manufactured goods uncompetitive. The country is also fighting illicit alcohol.

READ: Kenya loses Sh70bn in counterfeit trade

Kebs said the issuance of the new stickers would be controlled tightly to avoid abuse by cartels and phony traders. The mark of quality has in the past been issued to importers in soft copies for printing in the form of stickers to be applied on Kebs certified products or incorporation on the packages of Kebs certified products.

“However, arising from rampant application of the mark on non- certified products, Kebs has decided to control the printing of the mark as well as improve its security features through physical and digital technology,” Kebs said.

Products already certified by Kebs under the Diamond Mark of Quality Scheme are exempted from mandatory application of ISM, the agency said.

“The Diamond Mark of Quality will be re-designed and certification fees aligned to prevailing ISM costs. Products subject to Pre- Export Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVoC) must be accompanied with a Certificate of Conformity, the above list notwithstanding,” the regulator said.

Kebs said the new guidelines on imported goods would exempt some items including medicines and medical devices that will be under the full control of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board from July 1, 2016.