Laws and standards are important in as far as they sere to uphold the dignity of the human person yet we all too often have laws that make life difficult for entrepreneurs to thrive. Individuals are taxed from right center left that it seems only those who have access to huge amounts of capital or money are able to do business or become entrepreneurs. Raising government revenue becomes a roadblock to the development of small scale entrepreneurs. Many times such taxing is unwarranted especially if the government is not providing the necessary infrastructure to empower entrepreneurs and make business thrive. Starting a business or even registering one should not have to cost a cent. It should be as easy as breathing. Foreign companies have in the past enjoyed tax breaks but budding entrepreneurs have to bend forward and backwards in order to comply with the law.
Then we have customs and excise duty which are mostly justified as protecting homegrown industries. Whether such arrangements serve to protect Kenyan industries needs to be studied. High customs and excise duty serve to make inter-national trade the preserve of those who already possess capital, they do not necessarily encourage the growth of industries. Needless to say, as the taxation is implemented there is no complimentary effort to grow Kenyan industries, the law of the jungle works. Foreign soap for instance may be subjected to customs and excise duty so as to promote local ‘production’ and ‘consumers’ but what if locals have no knowledge about soap production? It’s only a few bigwigs and companies that have the opportunity to grow. The rest are consumers with little or no choice over what to buy. They are forced to at times consume sub-standard products from low cost production companies and individuals with low skill levels.
Far from that, some local regulatory bodies end up frustrating entrepreneurs by focusing on catching those who ‘break the law’ e.g. those who do not enforce hygienic standards. These could be a fellow selling boiled eggs on the streets. While protecting consumers is important, such regulators do not spell out the standards that have to be observed or teach people the necessities to be observed or make it easier for people to follow them. It seems to me that standards protect certain interests at the expense of market newbies. If all the government does is ‘protect and regulate’ without empowering, then growth is limited to a certain class of people. An effort should be made to ensure that entrepreneurs are more likely than not to meet standards and laws. This should involve the provision of quality education and skills and the necessary equipment so that not only the fortunate few are on the good side of the law or are able to meet standards. Laws and standards should empower people, not stifle them.