A lobby group is blaming the government for failure to conduct adequate public education on the side effects of new tax laws on bottled water.
The mandatory deadline for the affixation of stamps on bottled water is less than a week. From February 1 this year, the government expects that all bottled water should have stamps regardless of manufacture dates.
Any bottled water that has no stamps will by the end date be considered illegal.
Consequently, any person found in possession of such water faces the risk of prosecution and conviction.
Addressing press in Nairobi, the Water Bottlers Association of Kenya said many businesses are likely to be caught on the wrong side of the law due to lack of awareness.
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“We feel there has been little effort to educate Kenyans on the impacts of excise tax on bottled water, at the same time we sympathise with the ordinary people who are forced to take up the burden of exercise and other taxes,” said Henry Kabogo, Chairperson, Water Bottlers Association of Kenya.
The association said it is not opposed to the new rules, which will provide a level playing field for players in the industry. He called on the manufacturers to be careful as government agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority, Anti Counterfeit Authority and the Director of criminal Investigations will be out ensuring implementation of the new directive.
“While we welcome the EGMS system for bringing fairness in business competition, we will continue to agitate for a reduction of the excise charged against bottled water. We would also be burying our heads in the sand if we continued to consider bottled water to be luxury product in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol,” he added.
The association called on the president to consider reviewing the tax directive.