Victory for Nairobi residents as levies in Finance Bill reduced

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has approved the Finance Bill of 2023, which will now facilitate the provision of services to the residents of Nairobi.

The County Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed the Bill, making several reductions to levies in certain areas.

The assembly had initially requested additional time to amend the Bill after the public expressed their opposition to some proposals aimed at increasing taxes in specific areas, such as parking charges and taxes targeting traders.

As a result, some of the significant beneficiaries include women of childbearing age, street preachers, and politicians looking to host public rallies at the Kamukunji grounds.

The executive had previously introduced a preaching fee of Sh1,000 in the parks around Nairobi, but this fee has now been eliminated.

The assembly has eliminated all charges for family planning services in level 3 County health facilities, and in level 4, the charges have been reduced from Sh500 to Sh200.

Governor Sakaja said the extension of more time for public participation had a significant impact on the decisions now incorporated into the Act.

“These insights played a crucial role in shaping the Bill, leading to adjustments in certain charges, whether they were increased, reduced, or maintained, aligning them with the interests and needs of both the public and the county government,” Sakaja said.

He said the county government will publish a comprehensive schedule of all fees and charges to ensure compliance.

Sakaja further said the Finance Act introduces a unified single business permit.

“We will have only one certificate displayed on the wall, with a Quick Response (QR) code. Inspections will be coordinated. One inspection team can determine whether you have paid for all aspects related to your business,” he said.

County Speaker Kennedy Ng’ondi said the bill passed unanimously due to the strong working relationship between the executive and the legislature.

Motorists will continue to pay Sh200 for parking in the city centre, contrary to earlier proposals of Sh300 on weekdays, with parking being free on weekends.

On Fridays, Muslim worshippers will enjoy free parking during prayer sessions around places of worship, while on Sundays, Christians attending services in the city centre will also have free parking.

Additionally, politicians wishing to hold political rallies in Kamukunji have been exempted from the proposed Sh100,000 fee.

Shooting both secular and gospel songs at Uhuru Park will now cost Sh2,500 from the earlier proposal of Sh5,000 while performing music concerts per day was reduced from Sh50,000 to Sh40,000.

Among other reductions include rent for city county houses, hiring business stalls, and impounding, among other levies that city residents had rejected in the initial Bill forwarded to the Assembly.

“Our aim was to ensure residents are not burdened with heavy taxes. There are mass reductions in almost all areas,” Budget Committee chairman Wilfred Odalo said.

The ward reps said it was unfair to add many levies under the current economic times where many people are struggling.

“The committee also made reductions in the health sector, with a crucial change being that HIV testing will now be free in county hospitals,” Odalo said. Majority Leader Peter Imwatok said the decision to reduce taxes demonstrates the county’s dedication to city residents.