Nov 09, 2018 (China Knowledge) - The discontentment arising from the influx of Chinese businesses in driving local companies out and the rising debts had pushed a lawmaker from Kenya’s ruling party to propose putting limits on foreign involvement in public contracts.
In a phone interview with Reuters, Rigathi Gachagua, a member of parliament from central Kenya, told about his proposal of bringing amendments to the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015. The amendments will prevent foreigners from bidding for any contract in Kenya, valued more than USD 9.83 million.
His proposal has already gained widespread support from the ruling party among others, with potential debate to take place in the parliament early next year.
China has become Kenya’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 17% of the country annual trade value, at over USD 2 billion. China also accounts for roughly 21% for the country’s total public debt of USD 24.67 billion.
However, borrowings from China have decreased significantly since 2017 for Kenya, despite being the country to hold the third highest Chinese debts. The numerous loans and working projects with China have sparked debt-trap fears among the Kenyans, with the recent opening of the Standard Gauge Railway station in Nairobi with Chinese funding.
On the other hand, the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has dispelled the claim of China having a hidden agenda in loans provided to Kenya, in his interview with CNN last month. The president believes that Kenya has a healthy mix of debt and China is not the only lender of Kenya, and people should not be focusing only on that.
President Xi Jinping and the Kenyan President met recently as Kenyatta arrived in China for the first China International Import Expo (CIIE). The country is expected to sign deals that allow fresh produce, consisting avocado, mango, and cashew nuts among others, to be exported to the Chinese market.
Kenyatta is also expected to negotiate trade tariffs on Kenya’s cash crops such as coffee for exports into China.
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