Showdown looms over tea land rates

County finance executive Charles Birech address the press after receiving a delegation from Trans Nzoia which is in Kericho for a two-day benchmarking mission on revenue collection to Kericho. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

A stalemate between the Kericho County Government and multinational tea companies over Sh1 billion land rates seems to be headed to a dispute resolution tribunal.

This follows a pronouncement by the County Finance Executive Charles Birech that a land evaluation roll has been conducted and they were ready to roll out the revised land rates.

“The multinational tea companies are, however, opposed to the revised land rates and we are going seek the intervention of a despite resolution tribunal to end the impasse,” Mr Birech said.

Governor Paul Chepkwony says the UK-owned tea firms must pay at least Sh10,000 per acre for the 800,000 acres they occupy.

The county aims to collect at least Sh1 billion from the rates.

“Currently, the multinational tea firms pay a measly Sh300 per acre, which is way below the current price for lease of land elsewhere in the county,” he said.

Kenya Tea Growers Association Chief Executive Apollo Kiarii, however, said they have been paying Sh1,260 per acre.

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“Discussion with the defunct Kericho, Bomet and Nyamira municipal councils in 2010 settled on a 10-year agreement over the amount,” he said.

In the land agreement documents seen by The Standard, the land rates agreement ended last year.

Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot argued that the companies must be compelled to pay between 0.5 and two per cent of the land value.

Birech at the same time said that the county government aims to collect at least Sh800 million from local revenue streams.

He said the automation of revenue collection had increased collection by over 30 per cent.

“We have seen tremendous increase in revenue collection especially in single business permit fees. There are still areas for improvement to cover all the revenue streams to allow us achieve at least 90 per cent efficiency,” he said.

“The only challenge is that some of the entrepreneurs are not the owners of the land their businesses stand on,” he said.

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Kericho County GovernmentCharles BirechLand rates